On Thursday, January 10, 2019, in the afternoon, Lauren Colvin Thompson called her mother, Torie Colvin. It was clear that something was wrong. It was late when the 32-year-old woman tried to call her kids, but they weren’t home. Lauren’s voice suggested that she was feeling a little upset. She told her mother she was sorry for some choices she had made in the past and asked her to tell her father she loved him. Torie could hear a man’s voice in the background while she was trying to calm her daughter down. She heard him tell Lauren that she didn’t need to call her kids right then, which made it sound like they were fighting.
Then Lauren said something scary: she told her mom that she would never do drugs again if she could get out of the situation she was in. Torie told her daughter that she should call the police if she thought she was in danger, but she didn’t know what she was talking about. Lauren changed the subject and told her mom to tell her kids she loved them. The call was over at 2:00 pm.
Lauren called 911 less than 10 minutes after she got off the phone with her mom. She was completely terrified as she told the 911 operator that she was being chased through the woods and that she had no idea where she was or how to get it. There were sounds in the background, and it was clear that Lauren was running while she was on the phone.
From Lauren’s cell phone pings, the 911 operator was able to get a good idea of where she was; she was probably near Rock Hill, Texas. Right away, deputies from the Panola County Sheriff’s Office were sent to that area.
Lauren talked to the 911 operator for 21 minutes on the phone. The woman told the operator that she had gotten out of her car and was being chased, but she couldn’t give a description of the person or people she thought were after her. At one point, she looked like she thought she was being shot at, but the operator didn’t hear any gunshots.
Before 2:30 pm, Lauren could be heard talking to someone she didn’t know. The call ended suddenly. The operator tried several times to call Lauren back, but she never picked up. No one ever heard from her again.
It didn’t take deputies long to get to the scene after the 911 call ended. They found Lauren’s car right away; it was stuck in a ditch on an oil and gas lease road just off of Farm-to-Market Road 1794, which is outside of Rockhill, Texas. It wouldn’t be nearly as easy to find Lauren, though.
Lauren’s phone sent out one last ping about 20 minutes after the 911 call ended, and then it either died or was turned off. Therefore, the police could not get in touch with Lauren and could not find out where she was either. As soon as her car was found, they started searching the dense woods around the area, but it was hard. The ground was very rough, and some parts of the woods were almost impossible to get through.
Dogs that can follow trails were brought in to help the police search, but they couldn’t find any trails. It was hoped that a heat-seeking drone would be able to find Lauren’s heat signature, but it didn’t do any better than the tracking dogs. Deputies found a shoe that turned out to belong to Lauren a few hours into the search.
By comparing where the shoe was found to where Lauren’s car was found, police were able to figure out roughly what path Lauren had taken through the woods. They tried this guess through the woods, but it didn’t lead them to Lauren.
As the night went on, deputies kept looking for Lauren. A large-scale search began the next morning. The Texas Department of Safety, the Texas Rangers, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Forest Service, and the Panola County Sheriff’s Office all sent search crews. Over the next week, they searched a huge area of land, going through almost 2,000 acres of woods. From above, helicopter crews from the Texas Department of Public Safety could see a lot more land. They would end up covering almost 8,000 more acres. They looked everywhere but couldn’t find Lauren.
A lot of people in the community offered to help with the search, but they were turned away. There was private property all around the search area. The owners were fine with police being on their land, but they didn’t want to take on the liability that came with letting civilian volunteers help.
Not long after Lauren went missing, there was a prayer vigil for her. Dozens of her family and friends were there. They were sure Lauren would get home safely because they called her a fighter. Elizabeth Miles, one of Lauren’s friends, told a news reporter at the event that she thought something was wrong with her a few days before she disappeared. She told him that Lauren “was just worried. It was all over her. She wasn’t feeling good. There was something wrong with her.”
Lauren had a history of mental illness, according to another friend. They said that she had called the police before because she thought someone was following her. Even though they meant well, their comments made a lot of people wonder if Lauren was really in danger when she called 911 or if she was having a mental breakdown. The police wouldn’t let the public hear the 911 recording, which made things even more mysterious. It became hard to tell the difference between fact and rumor.
Authorities wouldn’t say much about what was said on the 911 call, but they did say that Lauren gave the operator the names of the three people she was with before she ran away into the woods. All three of these people were questioned about Lauren’s disappearance, and at least one of them took a polygraph test. None of them were thought to be suspects, and the public never learned their names.
In the hours before she went missing, Lauren was with a man and two women. The man told police that they were in the Rockhill area because they were going to fish on the Sabine River. They were in two different cars. The man was riding with Lauren in her truck, and the two women were following in theirs. Someone got angry with Lauren, and the woman driving behind her hit her truck, sending Lauren off the road and into a ditch. It’s not clear what happened exactly.
As he walked home to get his car and some chains to help him pull Lauren’s truck out of the ditch, the man told police that he had told her to stay with her truck. At this point, Lauren got out of her truck and ran into the woods.
Deputies were able to call all three people while Lauren was still on the phone with the 911 operator because she had given the operator their names. Officials say that when deputies talked to the man who had been in Lauren’s car, he was, in fact, walking to his house to get his car. What the women were doing at this point is not clear; some reports said they were at the scene when the deputies arrived, but this has not been confirmed. Also, it’s not clear if Lauren’s truck was hit on purpose or by accident.
The ground search for Lauren was cut back as the second week of the search began. The police began looking through Lauren’s social media and cell phone records to try to find anything that could help them find her. People who knew Lauren or were with her on the day she disappeared were questioned more than once, as well as her friends and family.
During the first few weeks of their investigation, detectives got a lot of tips and carefully followed up on all of them. Most of them were based on rumors, though, and no solid leads were found. Investigators said they hadn’t found any physical evidence of foul play, but they thought Lauren might have gone missing in a suspicious way and weren’t ruling out any options.
Twenty-one days after Lauren went missing, her family said they would pay $5,000 for information that led to her location. This led to a few tips, but none of them helped the police get closer to Lauren. Nobody had seen her since the day she went missing, and her cell phone, bank account, and social media account hadn’t been touched. It was like she had disappeared into thin air.
After looking for Lauren for two months, her family admitted that they were getting more and more desperate. They were sure Lauren would never have left her three kids on her own. Her father told a reporter that she was either being held against her will somewhere or was no longer alive.
In March, authorities searched for Lauren again on foot. Thirty officers and 12 dogs spent two days combing through more than 600 acres of woods that hadn’t been searched during the first investigation. They didn’t find any signs of Lauren.
In April, search teams tried to look in an area next to the Sabine River near where Lauren’s phone had last been pinged, but bad weather made it impossible. East Texas was getting drenched in rain, and a lot of the search area was submerged. Investigators had to wait until the water level dropped before they could resume their search.
Six months after Lauren went missing, Sheriff Kevin Lake went on the local news to respond to claims that the Panola County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t doing a good job with the investigation. Many rumors had been going around about Lauren’s disappearance. One of the most common ones said that she was with a relative of a Panola County detective on the day she went missing. Some people didn’t believe Lauren and insisted that there had been a cover-up. This person hadn’t been mentioned to the 911 operator, and the three people who had been with her denied that this person had been there. Sheriff Lake denied this claim and said that the FBI and the Texas Rangers were also part of the investigation and could vouch for its honesty.
When the investigation had been going on for a year, it looked like the case was beginning to slow down. Detectives said they still didn’t know what happened to Lauren. They had followed up on dozens of possible leads, but they all led nowhere. Sheriff Lake said that there were no official suspects in the case because there was no proof of foul play. However, he did say that he didn’t understand how Lauren could have just disappeared. He said that the last three people he saw with Lauren were people he was interested in, but he didn’t have any proof that they were involved with a crime.
As of June 2020, Lauren’s family said that they were raising the reward to $10,000 in the hopes that someone would finally come forward with the information that would help them solve the case. Another thing they did was hire a private investigator to look into what happened to Lauren. The private investigator was allowed to listen to the 911 call, and he agreed with the decision not to make the recording public. He said that there was information in the call that would be very useful if the case went to trial.
The private investigator looked at the facts of the case and did some research on his own to come to the conclusion that Lauren had probably been taken hostage. He came to this conclusion after looking at Lauren’s phone records, what she did online, what she said on the 911 call, and talking to people in the area. The private investigator found some information that the family of Lauren hopes can help the police with their investigation so that Lauren can be brought home.
In 2019, Lauren Colvin Thompson, who was 32 years old, was last seen. That day she went missing, she was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 135 pounds. She has brown eyes and hair. She was last seen with dark leggings and a hooded sweatshirt on. On her back is a butterfly tattoo, and around her eyes is permanent eyeliner torn out. Please call the Panola County Sheriff’s Office at 903–693–0333 or private investigator Joey Ortega at 805–824–8314 if you know anything about Lauren. There is a reward for information that helps Lauren get better.