The case of Lauren Smith-Fields has captured social media audiences. Some folks continue to question the involvement by the white man who found her body. Meanwhile, others are critiquing the lack of extensive coverage on the case. That is, in comparison to more recent cases of young women mysteriously dying such as Gabby Petito. Now, according to The Shade Room’s internal investigation, new details have emerged in the case, including how the family learned of her death and key evidence seemingly ignored by Bridgeport police.
Medical Examiner Ruling
Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Lauren’s passing an “accident” on Monday. According to the report, the 23-year-old died from “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine and alcohol.” The medical examiner’s office released the report more than a month since Lauren was found unresponsive in her apartment on December 12, 2021.
But the family says there’s more to the story, especially given their knowledge that Lauren had no prior history with heavy drug use.
Legal Notice Filed
Lauren’s family reportedly filed a legal notice on Friday that’s part of a larger plan to issue a lawsuit. The pending lawsuit will name the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the Bridgeport Police Department. Per the paperwork, Bridgeport police “failed to implement the proper crime scene investigation team to collect physical evidence.”
Additionally, the legal notice claims Bridgeport police “refuse to view the last person to see Smith-Fields before she died as a person of interest.”
‘TSR Investigates’ Seeks Answers
Reporter Justin Carter of ‘TSR Investigates’ conducted a deep dive into what we know so far about the case. A 37-year-old white man named Matthew LaFountain was the last person to see Lauren alive, discover her unresponsive body and call 911. She met with the design engineer in person for the first time the night before she died. Three days prior, the two had connected on the social, dating and networking app Bumble. Despite being the last person to see Lauren alive, police haven’t named Matthew as a person of interest. Per ‘TSR Investigates,’ he remains a free man.
How Lauren’s Family Learned She Died
Lauren’s family says police botched the investigation from the very beginning—prompting the planned lawsuit.
Shantell Fields, the victim’s mother, told Justin she knew something was off when Lauren wasn’t answering or returning her calls. She met with Lauren’s older brother Lakeem Jetter at Lauren’s place, where they discovered a note on the door addressed to anyone looking for the young woman. The note came from the property landlord, who called Bridgeport detectives after being contacted.
Lauren’s brother Tavar Gray-Smith said Detective Kevin Cronin told the family authorities didn’t need to contact the family because they had already identified the body using her passport. At this point, Lauren had been dead for 24 hours.
The Night Before Lauren Died
‘TSR Investigates’ obtained a copy of the police report from the crime scene. Matthew reportedly arrived at Lauren’s home at 9:30 p.m. local time on December 11, 2021. He said the two only communicated through Instagram after their initial meet on Bumble. Matthew told police Lauren invited him over “for a date.” She reportedly asked him to give her $40 to get her nails done and to bring a bottle of tequila. Once there, he tried to call her through Instagram, but she did not answer. He told police he left “thinking he was stood up,” but later returned at Lauren’s request.
Once together, Matthew told police they began taking shots from a 750 mL bottle of Casamigos, but Lauren “became ill.” She apparently went to the bathroom to vomit, returned in an apologetic state and then they both continued drinking tequila in mixers this time. They “played some games, ate some food and started to watch a movie.” Matthew said Lauren was texting her brother who was about to drop something off. Apparently, she stepped outside to meet her brother, who Matthew never saw.
When she returned from outside, Matthew said she headed straight for the bathroom and spent 10-15 minutes in there. Despite thinking her actions were odd, Matthew said he did not question her because he “didn’t feel it was his place to say anything as he didn’t know her that well.” After she returned, Matthew said Lauren fell asleep on the couch. So, he carried Lauren to her bed, laid down next to her and also fell asleep.
Lauren Found Unresponsive
Apparently, when he woke up at 3 a.m. to use the bathroom, Lauren was snoring. Then, when he woke up again a few hours later at 6:30 p.m., she was “laying on her right side, blood was coming out of her right nostril onto the bed and she was not breathing.” That’s when Matthew says he called 911. She was pronounced dead about 19 minutes later.
Detective Cronin later told Lauren’s family that Matthew was a “nice guy for calling 911 in the first place.” Now, the family wants to dig deeper into his involvement in the case.
“We’re now prosecuting them,” attorney to Lauren’s family Darnell Crosland said. “I want to know who Cronin contacted that morning. We want to see his cell phone and we believe that he either spoke to [Matthew], knows this gentlemen or there’s some kind of connection there.”
Evidence Ignored By Police
Darnell said the family discovered what could be key evidence in Lauren’s apartment. While cleaning out her apartment two weeks after her passing, they discovered bloody sheets, a mysterious pill and used condom with semen in it.
“Two weeks later, a bedsheet with blood, a pill and a condom was left at the scene,” Darnell said. “Why was two weeks later the family had to beg them to do a CSI? Why? A Black family disregarded, not treated like Gabby or anybody else.”
Lauren’s family spent time marching to the police department’s office on Sunday, January 23. The day marks what would’ve been Lauren’s 24th birthday.
“She had a life, she had a business, she was in college and she had a family and friends that love her,” Shantell said at the march. “No one is going to discard Lauren Smith-Fields, my daughter, as she’s rubbish. They’re going to answer everything or people gon lose their jobs. I want that bastard Cronin’s badge.”
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim issued a statement following public outrage. He said there’s “no tolerance” for families receiving “anything less than respect and sensitivity” in such cases. Apparently, the “matter has been referred to the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct a full and fair investigation.”
Check out our internal look at the case below:
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