Lauren Smith-Fields

Why The Case of Lauren Smith-Fields Deserves Our Attention

Ezinne Ukoha
5 min readJan 28, 2022


Every time I look at the image of the young Black woman, smiling with the promise of what will never be — I’m reminded of what I looked like when I was a 23-year-old college graduate diligently planning an ambitious move from the Midwest to New York City.

Lauren Smith-Fields is not Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old white woman whose online presence as a YouTuber documenting her version of the viral series “Van Life” with her abusive boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, inspired the nationwide attention her disappearance and eventual murder warranted.

For weeks, during the fall of 2021, our newsfeed was hijacked by the real-life thriller starring two young mismatched lovers embarking on a cross-country road trip that goes predictably awry. The couple’s violent antics on the road caught the attention of cops, who failed to separate the victim from her abuser, which provided another opportunity for a tragic outcome.

The point is that prominent media outlets did not take their foot off the gas when it came to sustaining the momentum around solving the mystery of Gabby Petito’s disappearance. For weeks, the nation was transfixed by the stunning coverage of a nail-biter that included CNN’s annoying habit of replaying clips of the doomed lovebirds frolicking in the great wide open.

The media-at-large needed to fixate on the disturbing case of Gabby Petito because we would expect that same level of attention for ALL missing persons in this country.

The notable newsrooms that made Gabby Petito a household name are the same ones showing diminished interest in the pending case of Lauren Smith-Fields. A young Black woman who dies under mysterious circumstances after a date with a guy she barely knew isn’t quite riveting enough for daily updates throughout the day, including primetime coverage.

Smith-Fields was found dead in her apartment in Bridgeport, CT back in December 2021 by a white man she allegedly met on the dating app Bumble, who had spent the night and woke up to find Smith-Fields unconscious with blood leaking from her nostril. The white man who is 37-years-old and resides in the area apparently called the cops in a state of panic and upon their arrival, they assessed the situation and described the “frantic”…