Lauren Smith has been missing since November 21st, 2011. The 22 year-old woman lived in Leon, Virginia at the time, and she was attending school at Longwood University. She also worked part-time cleaning houses in the area. Additionally, Lauren was well-known in the online gaming world.
On the day she vanished, Lauren was scheduled to clean a house. Her cousin stated that he dropped her off at the house she was supposed to clean around 2:15pm. It is unclear if Lauren actually spent any time at the house, though, as she was spotted driving into a 7-11 parking lot and entering the store around 3pm. While this was a full 45 minutes after her cousin claimed to have dropped her off, the owner of the house said that he came home to a dirty, unlocked house and he could tell that nobody had let his dogs out. However, the owner of the home did notice that a revolver was missing from his home.
Lauren herself never returned home that evening and has never been seen or heard from again. Once she was reported missing, investigators pulled surveillance footage from the 7-11 where Lauren was last seen. The footage shows Lauren parking her car at the store around 3pm. She then entered the store and visited with a friend who worked there as an employee. After visiting her friend, Lauren left the 7-11 on foot and seemingly vanished. Many found it suspicious that Lauren's car was left at the 7-11, however according to certain sources, Lauren was planning on buying a new car that day. She was believed to be carrying between $3000-5000 in cash on the day she vanished. Some have theorized that this is why Lauren left her car at the convenience store, but this has never been confirmed.
There are quite a few other possible theories about what might have happened to Lauren as well.
The owner of the home that Lauren was supposed to clean was arrested two years after her disappearance for stalking and harassing an ex-girlfriend. Additionally, he allegedly used his ex-girlfriend's name and address to post Craigslist ads looking for sexual encounters. The homeowner is currently in prison for those charges, but he is not considered a person-of-interest in Lauren's disappearance. In fact, investigators do not believe that Lauren actually went to the home that day. They believe that Lauren's cousin is lying about dropping her off there, and that the cousin has access to vital information that he is withholding. He also reportedly left the state shortly after being interviewed by police. It is unclear if police have been able to contact him again.
Another theory is that Lauren possible left on her own accord. A suitcase was discovered to be missing from her home and she had apparently spoken about disappearing to a few friends shortly before she vanished. Lauren's family members do not believe she would voluntarily stay out-of-touch for this long--especially since she left her passport behind and her cell phone has not been used since she was last seen.
Lauren remains missing today. The Madison County Sheriff's Office is investigating her case. If you have any information that could lead to her whereabouts, please contact 540-948-5161.