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Lauren Agee: Mysterious Death Still Unsolved

Lauren Agee was born in Mississippi in 1993 to Sherry and Brian Agee. Her parents later separated and at the time of her death, she was residing in Hendersonville, Tennessee with her mum and her mother’s new husband, Michael Smith. Lauren was very involved with her whole and she was extremely close to her three siblings; Allison, Jordan, and Joshua.

Pic: sheilawysocki

She was characterized by her friends and loved ones as kind, social and outgoing, with a big personality. She enjoyed singing and dancing and had achieved a dance scholarship to Bethel University, however, she later left to study Criminal Justice at Vol State University in Gallatin, Tennessee. In 2015, Lauren had a new boyfriend and the affair looked to be going very well, with many describing him as “the one”.

Lauren Planing


At the beginning of July 2015, Lauren notified her mother that she and her friend Hannah Palmer had planned a trip to Wakefest, a wake-boarding and water-sports event that was taking place at Centre Hill Lake in Smithville, Tennessee, on the weekend of the 25th to 27th. Sherry stated was not eager for Lauren to attend the festival, as it is known for hard-core drinking and crazy partying and her friend Hannah was not the most sensible girl. Sherry described Hannah as a “fair-weather friend”, who came in and out of Lauren’s life and appeared to be more anxious about boozing and meeting boys than maintaining her relationships. Nonetheless, by this time, Lauren was 21 and an adult who was authorized to make her own choices, and she decided she was going to attend despite her mum’s suspicions. She tells Sherry that the two girls will be staying in a cabin near the lake, and will be driving down on Friday and driving back home on Sunday.
When the 25th of July arrives, Lauren packs her sleeping bag and some clothes and says goodbye to her mum and stepfather and she and Hannah make the drive to Centre Hill Lake. By all accounts they appeared to be very fascinated about the weekend ahead, posting pictures on social media of themselves in the car, chuckling and laughing, unfortunately, the weekend trip would take a devastating turn.
Once the girls arrive at the lake, they are shortly joined by Hannah’s new boyfriend, Aaron Lilly, and his friend Christopher Stout. It is at this point that the sleeping arrangements appear to alter and the foursome ends up camping on a cliff near the lake.
Regardless, Lauren didn’t seem to be prepared for camping outside in the elements. The only items she has with her are her sleeping bag, her cell phone, and a change of clothing, and the only shoes she has are flip-flops, which are barely a suitable choice of footwear for mountainous terrain.

Area

The area where they were camping is a steep cliffside with a 90-foot drop on one side and a 45-foot drop on the other. The only way for them to get up there is to canoe across the lake to the outcrop and then use a rope to pull themselves up the vertical terrain, avoiding trees, bushes, rocks, and many ledges on their assent. Despite the difficult conditions, the foursome reaches the campsite in one piece and starts to set up.

The boys have brought a tent for Aaron and Hannah to sleep in and a hammock where Lauren and Chris will be sleeping. Lauren’s friend Kassi later reports that Lauren told her she was not pleased with this arrangement, as she had a boyfriend and said she made it obvious that she had no romantic involvement with Chris. Nonetheless, as others have pointed out, we only have Kassi’s word for this, and so we cannot know for sure what her real feelings about sleeping in the hammock were.
There are just two ways the four can get off the cliff and back to the marina where the evening’s events will be taking place; either using the thin rope to drag themselves down or leaping from the cliff and into the water, hoping they miss any jagged rocks on the way. It does appear that cliff-jumping was a normal occurrence at Wakefest, so perhaps this was part of the intentional activities for that day. Aaron and Chris were thrill-seekers, and I am unsure how Hannah and Lauren felt about the prospect of jumping. Regardless, they agree and so the four jump off the cliff and into the water below. The three friends later report that Lauren hit her head when she landed in the water following this mountain jump, and she may have been slightly concussed.
On top of this, she continued to drink alcohol, which would have done her no favors if she did indeed have a head injury. Nonetheless, all reports from those who saw or spoke to Lauren that night state she was in a terrific mood and didn’t appear to be suffering from any indications of a concussion. There is video footage of her in the Marina Bar where she seems joyful and in good spirits. (This does not mean she was not concussed, it just suggests if she was, no one else who saw her that night seemed to be aware.) There is also video footage from that bar depicting Aaron and Chris getting into what is believed to be a confrontation with Aaron’s ex-girlfriend, Kassi Franks, who attended the same high school as Lauren. The two girls speak at the bar and Kassi asks Lauren if she and Chris are together. From Kassi’s report, Lauren says they are not, stating that she has a boyfriend and she has no romantic feelings towards Chris. She clarifies that she has been inadvertently paired with him for the evening because Hannah is now dating Aaron, and the four are camping jointly. Kassi also said she could tell there was alcohol in Lauren’s system when they spoke.

Time


Some time between 12 and 2 am (the precise time is disputed), the group decides they want to head back, and it seems Lauren has second thoughts about staying at the campsite. She reportedly asks Kassi if she can stay with her instead, but Kassi notifies her there is no room at their cabin. With this, Lauren joins the others and they get ready to make their way back to their campsite.
The journey would be particularly difficult as they had consumed huge quantities of alcohol, and if Lauren was in any way concussed, it was downright risky. It does seem that the foursome was well familiar with just how risky their campsite was, as a video posted online illustrates them getting into a canoe on the lake and shouting: “We’re headed for the death trap”.
Even though all the odds appear to have been against them, they do make it back unscathed. This seems to be the last anyone reports seeing Lauren alive. It has been indicated that Lauren and Chris took this picture of themselves in the hammock on their return, nonetheless, several posters have rightly pointed out how bright the image is, implying it must have still been light out when it was taken. I saw this as well, and I don’t know what to make of it. Perhaps it has just been reported wrong in the media, or perhaps Chris deliberately told investigators they took it at the end of the night. Regardless it is suggested they then went to sleep.
At nearly 4:45 pm on the afternoon of the 26th of July, a fisherman and his son are out on the lake when they notice something in the water.
At first, they guess it is just a pair of pink shorts, but as they move closer they find it is, in fact, the corpse of a young woman, floating face down in the water. The police are summoned and as they are trying to remove the corpse from the cove, Aaron and Chris round the corner in a canoe. The boys ask the officers if they have discovered their friend and this is when their behavior is first called into question.
One of the officers would later report that he thought this whole encounter was staged and the boys knew where the corpse was long before the police did (which I say that they were looking for the corpse before the police could discover it). The cove where Lauren was discovered is located behind the cliff where the four were camping, but their campsite was situated on the side of the cliff that faces the marina (i.e. the opposing side to the cove). So if we are to believe that they didn’t know where Lauren was or what happened to her, then this suggests that they got into the canoe to look for her but went in a different direction, away from the marina, and just stumbled across the scene and her corpse completely by chance.
Of course, this is possible, but I find it controversial.
The boys are queried by the officers, who described their behavior as nervous and unsympathetic.
The discovery of the corpse leads investigators to believe that this is indeed Lauren Agee, nonetheless, they are worried by the fact that she has not been reported missing until now, some 14 hours after she is last noticed. They later interviewed other Wakefest attendees, who claimed they hadn’t realized that Lauren had not been noticed since the previous night. Many of the investigators present that day reported that Hannah, Aaron, and Chris looked unalarmed by the fact that their friend had vanished. However, all her belongings had been left on the cliff where they had been camping, including her shoes. I believe that it is highly controversial that anyone could have scaled the side of that cliff barefoot, and so the only way Lauren could have willingly left was if she jumped.
Nonetheless, she would have to do this in the early hours of the morning, in the dark, drunk, and without taking any of her possessions. Why would she have jumped off the cliff anyway? It has been indicated she was being picked up by another group in a boat. This is possible, but if authentic, why didn’t these people come forward?
After finding the body, the three friends are taken by boat to the mainland for further investigation and this is where their stories start to diverge. Aaron says Lauren never made it back to the camp with them after leaving the bar (despite all her things being found there) while Hannah claims Lauren left the campsite in the early hours of the morning, getting into a boat with some random boys. She stated that she saw all of Lauren’s items under the hammock and so presumed she had gone to meet other people but would be back to obtain her things, so she wasn’t too concerned.
Chris states he believes Lauren got up in the middle of the night, but he didn’t realize her leaving the hammock.
If she had gotten up while the others were sleeping (to pee or for some other reason) and had fallen off the cliff accidentally, I think they would have heard something. Despite their varying accounts of where Lauren went, they all claim they woke up later that morning and Lauren was nowhere to be found.
Nonetheless, they decided not to report her disappearance to the police or make any substantial effort to look for her, because they determined she went off with other people. This whole conversation between the three friends and the police takes place on the boat to the mainland, and the officers describe the trio as being very uncomfortable throughout, whispering to each other constantly, with Aaron frequently saying “don’t mention anything, I’ll do the talking”.
When one of the officers asks them what they are thinking about, Aaron reportedly says “I’m thinking about how I am going to get that gun from your hip and get off this boat” (if this is true I find it extremely suspicious).
Meanwhile, Lauren’s corpse is brought back to shore and is examined by both the medical examiner and the local police.
The autopsy disclosed Lauren had suffered blunt force trauma, as well as a catalog of other injuries; including broken fingers, a broken nose and bruises, and hemorrhaging on her back and thighs. What was shocking, however, was that Lauren had very little water in her lungs, which would be rare if she had indeed fallen from the cliff whilst alive. I know there is speculation that she could have suffered dry drowning, but the Generation Why team was right to point out that dry drowning usually occurs in young kids or people with poor health, which would not apply to Lauren.

Accident

Despite these inconsistencies, officials rule the death as accidental and state no foul play is suspected. They believe that Lauren fell off the cliff while drunk, hit the side of the cliff as she fell, causing her traumas, and then suffered blunt force trauma when she entered the water, due to the force of her fall.
Lauren’s mum is informed of her daughter’s death and asks to speak to her friends, she is informed by authorities that they were queried and released.
Sherry is very anxious about this, but she initially feels she has little evidence to go on, and so refrains from demanding further investigation. She shortly starts to question why Lauren’s friends had not called the police when they realized she was missing.
Sherry reports she is then reached by one of the officers who were at the scene that day, who states he does suspect foul play in her daughter’s case. He relays the full circumstances of the three friends’ odd attitude and when she hears they all gave different stories, she becomes disturbed and requests a reexamination of the case, but this is rejected.
Kassie Franks reported she was equally as disturbed by the details surrounding Lauren’s death and tried to voice her questions to authorities. She informed them that while she was dating Aaron Lilly, he was vicious towards her and she produced photographs of her injuries. He was apprehended on charges of domestic violence, for biting and choking her during a confrontation. She reveals Chris Stout also had a record and had been charged with 3 DUIs, including one for escaping the scene of an accident. Nonetheless, the police still insist that Lauren’s death was due to misadventure and until this day, are rejecting to investigate further.
The three friends returned to their ordinary lives after Lauren’s death. Hannah and Aaron continued dating and ultimately moved away to Florida together.
A later report by Sherry states she reached out to Hannah via Skype, requesting more data about the day of her daughter’s death. This is when Sherry says Hannah alters her story again, telling her that Lauren went to pee in the middle of the night and fell off the cliff. In the middle of this Skype call, Sherry reports that Hannah’s cell phone rings and she answers while Lauren’s mammy is still on Skype. Sherry claims that the call is from Aaron and she hears him tell Hannah to “shut up and stick to the story”.
We have no way of substantiating whether this is true, but if it is then this trio must be so unbelievably foolish, that I cannot fathom how they have managed to get away with a crime.
Currently, Aaron and Hannah are married and have a kid together.
Sherry decided to hire a private investigator, who has the autopsy reexamined. This discloses that the original inquiry failed to disclose that Lauren had to hemorrhage in her throat, which could have indicated choking.
The question to them is why a rape kit was never done on Lauren’s corpse. The police explain that Lauren had a tampon in, so that couldn’t mean she was raped.
It sucks that the police have ruled this case an accident despite all of the contrasting evidence.
It looks like to me that perhaps they don’t want to handle all of the police work that would be involved in examining a case with that many possible observers, but that’s no excuse for poor police work.
Her “friends” did this to Lauren, even though Chris & Aaron were canoeing to the place where Lauren’s corpse was discovered. It was like they KNEW where her corpse was.
Didn’t the police discover that suspicious as well? Like how did they know where Lauren’s corpse was?
Even they all carried on at wake fest as if nothing happened, then Chris posted that picture on Instagram… something is VERY suspicious here.
Sherry did say that Hannah was never really a “friend” to Lauren because she would only talk to her when she wanted something and that they were never really close.
I think Lauren was killed but her death was a cover-up since Hannah’s family or Aaron’s were rich or political, It looks like there are dirty paid-off cops or judges involved. One of them has to have connections, or something because the judge was way out of line & law enforcement just wanted to close the case. Something is super sketchy.
Her “friends” got away with killing.
The case reopened in January 2018. I don’t know if the case is proceeding but I believe it is. Let’s hope the case is being handled professionally.

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