Lauren Dumolo often started her day with a meditation session at Four Freedoms Park near her home in Cape Coral, Florida. The morning of Friday, June 19, 2020, was no different. The 29-year-old left her apartment on Coronado Parkway around 8:00 am headed for the park on foot, a walk that usually took her around six minutes. What happened after that is a mystery; Lauren hasn’t been seen since.

Lauren’s boyfriend, Gabriel Pena, was surprised when he arrived at Lauren’s apartment at 10:00 pm that night and found it empty. He grew concerned when he realized that Lauren’s cell phone was sitting on her kitchen table; it was unusual for her to go anywhere without it. According to Gabriel, he tried to call the Cape Coral Police Department and report Lauren missing but was told he needed to wait 48 hours before he could file a report. Unsure what to do next, at 11:00 pm he called Lauren’s father.

Paul Dumolo was surprised when he answered his phone and heard Gabriel’s voice, as he lived in California and had never met his daughter’s boyfriend. At first, he wasn’t too concerned; he assumed that Lauren would be quickly located. “I just thought she must be at her mom’s house or the store or something.”

By the next day, Lauren was still missing and Paul realized that the situation was more serious than he initially thought. He told Gabriel to call police and insist on filing a missing person report, then booked a flight from California to Florida. He arrived on Sunday and was dismayed to learn that Gabriel had not reported Lauren missing. Paul immediately went to the Cape Coral Police Department and filed a report.

Lauren’s family and friends didn’t know that her purse and shoes were found in Four Freedoms Park on Friday afternoon; police didn’t know how important they were because no missing person report had been made at the time. It wasn’t until Paul got to the police station that they realized how important the find was. Lauren’s wallet and keys were found in her purse, so she couldn’t get to her money anywhere. The police began looking for the missing woman right away.

Police used search dogs to look all over Four Freedoms Park, but they couldn’t find Lauren. By June 24, investigators were worried enough about Lauren that they changed her status to “endangered missing person,” but they wouldn’t say why. They asked the public several times for help in finding Lauren, asking anyone who saw her on or after June 19th to call the police.

Gabriel told the police that he had stayed at Lauren’s apartment on the night of June 18. He left for work at 6 a.m. on June 19, but Lauren was still asleep. At 8:15 a.m., a maintenance worker at the Coronado Apartment complex said he saw Lauren. He remembered her because she had asked him about cheaper apartments in the area. “Get out of the situation she was in” was something she said, but it wasn’t clear what she meant.

In the morning of Friday, 10:00, Lauren tried to video call Gabriel. Gabriel didn’t answer and told police that he had been at work and hadn’t heard the call. She would never use her cell phone again after this call.

Several planned searches of Four Freedoms Park did not find any clues that could help figure out what happened to Lauren. Southwest Florida Crimestoppers said they would pay $3,000 for information about Lauren’s disappearance in order to get people to come forward with tips. It was disappointing that only a few tips were sent in.

On July 2, a shirt thought to belong to Lauren was found in Four Freedoms Park. This was the first new piece of physical evidence. It was found in a strange place that had been searched many times before, which made some people think it might have been planted there. The shirt was definitely Lauren’s, but it didn’t hold any clues about what might have happened to her.

There was a huge search for Lauren, and her family and friends did everything they could to let everyone know she was still missing. They made missing person flyers and put them up all over Lee County. They then went door-to-door and talked to people to see if anyone had seen the woman. They gave investigators all possible tips, and they followed up on all of them. They didn’t get any closer to Lauren, which made her dad say, “She pretty much vanished.”

Lauren had been having some mental health problems in the weeks before she went missing. This made it even more important to find her. Under the Baker Act, she was taken to the hospital against her will on two occasions, on June 1st and June 15th, when she started to show signs of being mentally ill.

Paul says that Lauren had never had a mental illness before June 2020. Cassie, Lauren’s sister, thought that Lauren was still feeling bad about having an abortion. “When you hold in too much for too long, you’re going to explode in some way,” she said. Lauren began to hear voices and told her family that she thought someone was after her.

After she got out of the hospital in early June, she seemed to get better. She and Gabriel spent the week before she disappeared at the beach with Cassie and her two kids. Cassie told the press that the sisters had a great time that day and that Lauren looked excited. She also said that Lauren and Gabriel’s relationship didn’t seem to be having any problems; they spent the day laughing and hugging like a happy couple.

But Lauren began to show signs of mental distress again just two days after the sisters’ beach trip. At that point, she called her dad and told him she had no idea what was going on with her. She showed signs of being paranoid and said she thought someone might be giving her drugs. On June 15, she was taken to the hospital for the second time.

When Lauren got out of the hospital on June 18, she seemed to be in a good mood again. Before she went to the hospital, she had two jobs: one at a nearby Taco Bell and one at a small restaurant. Because she had been in the hospital, she lost both of these jobs, which were her main source of income. As soon as she got out of the hospital, she started trying to get her life back on track. An evening surveillance camera caught her applying for a job at a nearby gas station. At that time, she didn’t seem to be having any problems.

Everyone who knew Lauren agreed that she was not the kind of person who would have gone missing on her own. She got along well with her sisters and talked to her dad a lot. She had some setbacks along the way, like an opiate addiction that took her years to beat after a car accident when she was a teenager. But she had been sober for two years at the time of her disappearance and was working hard to get custody of her 5-year-old daughter, who was living with her maternal grandmother in West Palm Beach. She would never have left little McKayla on her own.

Over the next few months, not much progress was made on the case. An unnamed businessman on Marco Island offered a $5,000 reward for information in order to get the investigation going again. This made the total reward offered $8,000. Sadly, the bigger reward didn’t lead to any new information.

The number of tips Crimestoppers got by the end of August was pretty low—about twelve. Of those, none of them led to Lauren. Manager for Crimestoppers Trish Routte said that the lack of tips was disappointing. People must know something about her or have seen her after the morning of June 19th. It’s both sad and frustrating.

SW Florida Crime Stoppers asked for help on September 3 to hand out more than 100 big yard signs with Lauren’s picture and information about her case. Many people pitched in, and soon the yard signs could be seen all over Lee County. The kindness of the many people who offered to help Lauren’s family was moving. Paul told reporters, “These are complete strangers who have never met me or my daughter.”It’s nice to know there are still good people in the world.

Lauren’s family and friends decided to hold a fundraising event on October 3, 2020, in the hopes that a bigger reward would finally get someone with information to come forward. Danielle Langevin didn’t know Lauren personally but felt compelled to help when she heard about the missing woman. She hoped that all the attention on the case would finally get the person or people responsible for Lauren’s disappearance to talk. “We hope they come forward because they will feel too guilty not to and will see how much Lauren was loved.”

“We Ride For Lauren” was the name of the event, which had food, music, raffles, auctions, and a motorcycle ride led by Paul Dumolo. More than 60 motorcyclists took part in the ride, which means the event was a success. Many nearby companies gave money, auction items, and food for the event, which raised over $6,000 �. The number of people who came was good, and Lauren’s sister Cassie said, “I hope this event will shed some light on what happened to her.”

Even though Lauren’s family and friends tried to stay positive, the fact that she hadn’t said anything in a long time was clearly making them feel bad. “Never in my wildest dreams could I think she could die this young,” her sister Lindsay said. “But I’m still hoping.” She hoped, like Cassie, that making more people aware of the case would finally lead to answers.

In October, the family had more bad news. Lauren’s mother died on October 15 after getting COVID-19 while she was in the hospital for other illnesses, such as kidney failure. Lauren’s stepmother died only four days after that. Amidst his pain, Paul said, “I’m not giving up on looking for my daughter.”

Master Cpl. Phillip Mullen of Cape Coral said that Lauren’s case was frustrating, but that “most missing person cases are solved quickly.” In June and July, 18 reports of missing people were sent to the police. By August, all but Lauren’s case had been solved.

Paul kept in touch with the police all the time, but they couldn’t tell him much. He was becoming more and more desperate to find out where Lauren was because he was sure she had been taken and either killed or sexually trafficked. “This is something I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go through…”While there is some hope that she is still alive, it is possible that she is not. Personally, I believe it is worse to not know.

Reporters asked Paul early on in the investigation if he was sure that detectives were doing everything they could to find Lauren. He was upset that they weren’t making any progress. By November, he was fed up with not getting answers and chose to hire a private detective. “Cape Coral Police Department can’t find anything for whatever reason,” Paul told reporters. Paul hired private investigator Walt Zalisko with $4500 from the “We Ride For Lauren” event.

PI Zalisko was honest about how he felt about the case and said that no one had seen Lauren since she went missing. Her bank account, credit cards, and social media accounts were all left alone. She seemed to have disappeared into thin air. “It’s safe to say she’s not with us anymore. We need to find her body and find the people who did this.”

Lauren’s family and friends got together in Four Freedoms Park on December 5 to walk a mile in her honor. Cape Coral Police Chaplain Donald Neace said a prayer for Lauren and the people who are looking for her before the event began. During the walk, family, friends, police officers, and volunteers carried a banner with Lauren’s picture on it and stopped often to tie pink ribbons around trees. They did it to get more people to know that Lauren was still missing and they were still very desperate to find her. Cassie said that the pain of missing her sister hadn’t gone away with the passing of time. “You’d think it would get better, but it’s not.” It’s the same as Day 1.

The investigation went on for months with no progress. Lauren’s family, friends, locals, and Cape Coral police officers all got together in Four Freedoms Park on June 19, 2021, to mark the sad anniversary of her disappearance. This was a sad time for the family as they tried to understand why they still hadn’t found Lauren after a whole year. According to reporters, Paul said, “I am somewhere between mad, upset, and sad.” Every day, the pain is there.”

To honor Lauren, her loved ones placed a bench near her favorite spot in Four Freedoms Park, a place where she had spent so many hours meditating about life. A small ceremony was held, with Cape Coral Fire Chaplain Mark Matthews saying a quick prayer and offering some words of encouragement to those still trying to process their loss. A plaque on the bench read, “Lauren is always with us, our angel, #bringlaurenhome.”

Although Lauren’s loved ones have never given up on finding her, the investigation into her disappearance has stalled. Cape Coral Police Detective Nick Jones told reporters that only a few tips were received in the case and there was no new information to report. Still, like Lauren’s family, detectives remain optimistic. “We are still hopeful that someone in the community will come forward with information that will lead to a break in the case.”

Lauren Dumolo was 29 years old when she went missing from Cape Coral, Florida in June 2020. Her loved ones have been tirelessly searching for her ever since and will not give up until they can bring Lauren home. Lauren has brown eyes and brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 105 pounds. She has several tattoos, including the word “namaste” on her side, rosary beads on her ankle, “NY” on her pelvis, and the Om symbol on the inside of her wrist. If you have any information about Lauren, please contact the Cape Coral Police Department at 239–574–3223.

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