The mother of a young woman who died on a camping trip in 2015 is suing the friends who were with her daughter the weekend she mysteriously lost her life.
Lauren Agee, 21, was found dead in Center Hill Lake in Tennessee, during a camping trip with friends in July 2015. Her friends later told police they had not seen her since Saturday night, and her body was discovered Sunday afternoon by a fisherman. The friends had not reported her missing.
Investigators ruled the death as accidental, concluding that Lauren fell off a cliff after consuming alcohol.
But as reported by ABC, Agee’s mother Sherry Smith isn’t convinced it was an accident, and insists that the friends Lauren was with the weekend she died know more than they have told police.
Lauren had set up a cliffside campsite with her friend Hannah Palmer, Aaron Lilly, Hannah’s boyfriend, and Aaron’s friend Chris Stout, who Lauren was meeting for the first time.
The friends all went out drinking before returning to the campsite around 2 a.m. and going to sleep. When they woke later that morning, Lauren was gone. When questioned by police, Hannah reportedly said she was worried, especially since Lauren had left her cell phone and flip flops behind, but figured she had gone to meet up with another friend, so didn’t report her missing.
Smith has filed wrongful death suits against all three of the friends, though a judge dismissed the suit against Palmer late last month. Smith’s lawyer told reporters they plan to appeal. The lawsuits against Lilly and Stout are still pending.
Smith enlisted a private investigator, Sheila Wysocki, to re-examine Lauren’s death. Wysocki does not believe the death was an accident.
“When you start looking at the autopsy and the crime scene photos, and you look at her injuries, they weren’t adding up,” she told ABC.
The investigator believes Lauren may have been strangled.
“Somebody choked her,” she said. “Somebody either held her down or choked her.”
Wyoscki says she interviewed Hannah Palmer after police questioned her.
“Everybody’s like, ‘You know, don’t worry. You know, Lauren’s the kind that makes friends with anyone,’” Palmer reportedly said. “So, I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll try to just keep calm.’ I searched as much as I could without having to go to every single boat. And you know, I figured she would find us.”
In an appearance on 20/20, Wyoscki says Palmer got a phone call during the interview.
“What we were able to hear was, ‘Stick to the story,’” Wysocki said.
Though authorities have stood by their original conclusions, Lauren’s mother says she will not give up until someone is brought to justice for her daughter’s death.
“I’m never going to give up until I find the truth,” she said. “My baby was worth it. I’m never going to give up, ever.”