Police Open Criminal Investigation 6 Weeks After Woman Dies On Bumble Date With Older Man

Photo: Instagram
Lauren Smith-Fields

The family of 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields are demanding answers after she was found dead in her Bridgeport, Connecticut apartment following a date with a much older man.

After their calls for justice were heard, police have launched a criminal investigation following the results of her autopsy.

Smith-Fields, who had been taking classes at Norwalk Community College, died the morning of Dec. 12, 2021, after going out with a man she had met three days prior on the dating app Bumble.

Her family alleges that the police department's handling of the case has been "racially sensitive."

Authorities previously said that there was no foul play involved in Smith-Fields death, citing her cause of death as "acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol."

The family's attorney, Darnell Crosland, told NBC News that the man Smith-Fields met on Bumble, Matthew LaFountain, has not been labeled a person of interest in the case, something her family considers "unacceptable."

LaFountain had been the last person to see Smith-Fields alive, her family alleges.

Who is Lauren Fields-Smith Bumble date, Matthew LaFountain?

LaFountain, 37, who has not been charged in connection with Smith-Fields murder, had been the one to call 911 after realizing Smith-Fields nose was bleeding and she had stopped breathing.

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According to a police incident report, LaFountain had been at Smith-Fields apartment during the early morning hours of December 12.

Upon arriving to the scene, an officer found Smith-Fields laying on the floor, with dried blood in and around her nostril.

The officer also identified LaFountain as a "frantic man" in the report. LaFountain later told police that he had only known Smith-Fields for three days and had met her on Bumble.

LaFountain told police that he had arrived at Smith-Fields apartment the night before after she invited him over.

The two had been drinking shots of tequila when Smith-Fields suddenly became ill and went to the bathroom to vomit.

After her return, they continued drinking tequila with mixers, played games, ate food, and started watching a movie, LaFountain told police.

He also claimed Smith-Fields briefly left the apartment to allegedly collect something from her brother outside. She then, allegedly, spent 10 to 15 minutes in the bathroom.

Eventually Smith-Fields fell asleep on the couch, the man carried her to bed and fell asleep next to her.

When he woke up very early that morning to use the restroom, he says Smith-Fields was snoring, but when he woke up a couple of hours later, LaFountain saw her lying on her right side with blood coming out of her nostril onto the bed, prompting him to call police.

Smith-Fields had been pronounced dead at the scene, and medics confirmed that she had been dead for at least an hour or more.

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However, the police failed notify Smith-Fields' family of her death, and instead the family found out a day later after visiting her home and finding a note from the landlord on Smith-Fields' apartment door.

"The mom had been calling, because Christmas dinner was supposed to be at Lauren's house that year," Crosland told CNN.

"They drove over there, found a note on door from the landlord that said if anyone is looking for Lauren, call me. The police never tried to reach out to the family, they just took her body out of the home."

Much of the mishandling of the case has prompted Smith-Fields family to call out the police department.

"They wanted us to forget about our daughter, their sister, our loved one," Smith-Fields' mother, Shantell Fields told WNBC.

"They thought they were just going to throw her away like she was garbage, like she wasn't important, like she didn't have family members who loved her. We're fighting for her."

Many people on social media have been comparing Smith-Fields case to that of Gabby Petito, a white woman who went missing and was murdered in September 2021.

Similarly, many have pointed out the phenomenon "missing white women syndrome," in which cases of missing white women and girls are far more likely to make the news and handled with more care than cases with women of color.

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Smith-Fields father told Winchester News 12 that he had paid for a second autopsy himself, because he was "uncomfortable" with the way the case was being handled.

Shantell Fields, told Yahoo News that the police department told her family to stop calling them.

"We haven't had any answers since the day that we found out that she passed away," she said.

Lauren Smith-Fields's family believe the police missed crucial evidence.

Smith-Fields brother, Lakeem Jetter, spoke to WNBC, alleging that the police department's response to his sister's death has been "careless."

Jetter also claimed that police failed to collect numerous items of evidence from Smith-Fields apartment, including a used condom and a sedative pill.

"I feel like because he's a white guy and she's a Black girl, they're just throwing it under the rug," Jetter said, saying that police told his family they wouldn't be investigating Lauren's date, saying "he seemed like a nice guy."

On Sunday, hundreds of people marched in Bridgeport, on what would have been Smith-Fields 24th birthday, demanding justice for the young woman and calling out the police for their lackluster investigation.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for the Smith-Fields family in helping them with legal fees and ultimately finding justice for their daughter and sister.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.

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