Sherry and Brian Agee welcomed their daughter Lauren into the world in 1993 in the state of Mississippi. Later on, her parents got a divorce, and she was living in Hendersonville, Tennessee with her mother and her mother’s new husband, Michael Smith, when she passed away. Michael Smith was her mother’s second husband. Lauren was very close to her three siblings, Allison, Jordan, and Joshua, and she was very involved in the activities that her whole family participated in. Her close friends and family members praised her for being friendly, outgoing, and social, and they said that she had a big personality.
She had a passion for singing and dancing and had been awarded a dance scholarship to attend Bethel University; however, she eventually transferred to Vol State University in Gallatin, Tennessee, to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. In 2015, Lauren had a new boyfriend, and the relationship appeared to be doing very well; in fact, many people described him as “the one.” Lauren’s career was going very well in 2015, and she had a lot of success.
Wakefest was a wake-boarding and water sports event that was going to take place at Centre Hill Lake in Smithville, Tennessee, on the weekend of the 25th to the 27th of July 2015. At the beginning of July 2015, Lauren informed her mother that she and her friend Hannah Palmer had planned a trip to attend Wakefest. Sherry has stated that she did not want Lauren to go to the festival because it has a reputation for excessive drinking and wild partying, and Sherry felt that Lauren’s friend Hannah was not the most trustworthy person.
Sherry described Hannah as a “fair-weather friend,” someone who entered and exited Lauren’s life frequently and appeared to be more concerned with getting drunk and dating boys than with keeping her friendships intact. However, by this time, Lauren was an adult who could make her own decisions, and she decided that she was going to attend the event despite her mother’s concerns. Lauren had reached the age of 21 by this point. She reveals to Sherry that the two girls will be staying in a cabin close to the lake, that they will travel down to the destination on Friday, and that they will travel back home on Sunday.
On the morning of July 25th, Lauren and Hannah leave their home in New Jersey with a sleeping bag, some clothes, and a farewell to Lauren’s mother and stepfather for a trip to Centre Hill Lake. All indications were that they were looking forward to the weekend with great anticipation, as evidenced by the numerous posts to social media of them in the car, smiling and laughing.
Hannah’s new boyfriend, Aaron Lilly, and his friend, Christopher Stout, meet the girls at the lake shortly after they arrive. The foursome’s sleeping arrangements appear to shift at this point, as they set up camp on a cliff by the lake.
It was clear that Lauren hadn’t thought through what she’d need to survive a night under the stars. All she has with her is a sleeping bag, her phone, and a change of clothes, and the only shoes she has are flip-flops, which are not exactly ideal for hiking in the mountains.
Their camping spot was perched precariously on the edge of a cliff with a 90-foot drop on one side and a 45-foot drop on the other. Their only option is to paddle their canoe across the lake to the rocky outcrop, where they will need to use a rope to haul themselves up the treacherous slope, navigating around obstacles like trees, bushes, rocks, and ledges. The foursome makes it to the campsite without incident and begins to set up. Aaron and Hannah will sleep in a tent brought by the boys, while Lauren and Chris will hang out in a hammock. Kassi later heard from Lauren that she was unhappy with the arrangement because Lauren already had a boyfriend and had made it clear to Chris that she was not interested in a romantic relationship with him. Kassi claims she enjoyed her night in the hammock, but as others have pointed out, we only have her word for it and cannot be sure.
Only by using the thin rope to lower themselves or by jumping into the water and crossing their fingers that they don’t hit any sharp rocks will the four make it back to the marina in time for the evening’s festivities. It appears that cliff jumping was a common activity at Wakefest; perhaps it was scheduled for that day. It was clear that Aaron and Chris were thrill-seekers, but I have no idea how Hannah and Lauren felt about the prospect of jumping. Nonetheless, they give in, and the four of them plunge into the water below the cliff. The three friends say that Lauren may have suffered a minor concussion after landing in the water after jumping off the hill.
In addition, she kept on drinking, which was not helpful if she had suffered a head injury. Everyone who spoke to or saw Lauren that evening reports that she was in a good mood and showed no signs of trauma. Video captured of her in the Marina Bar shows her to be in high spirits and active. The bar also has surveillance footage of what appears to be an altercation between Aaron and Chris and Aaron’s ex-girlfriend, Kassi Franks, who went to Lauren’s high school. Kassi asks Lauren if she and Chris are an item while they are having a drink together at the bar.
Kassi reports that Lauren denies that she and Chris are an item because she is currently dating someone else and has no feelings for Chris. She explains that Hannah is now dating Aaron, and that the four of them are camping, so she was accidentally paired with him for the evening. Kassi added that she could tell Lauren was drunk just by talking to her.
It seems that Lauren is having second thoughts about staying at the campsite, and the group decides they want to head back sometime between midnight and two in the morning (exact time is up for debate). She allegedly asks Kassi to let her stay at their cabin instead, but Kassi declines. And with that, Lauren comes along with the rest of them as they prepare to return to their campsite.
Due to their heavy alcohol consumption and Lauren’s possible concussion, the trip would be extremely risky. A video of the four of them canoeing out onto the lake with the caption “We’re headed for the death trap” suggests they knew full well the dangers that awaited them at their campsite.
Despite what may have seemed like insurmountable obstacles, they were able to return safely. This is the last time anyone has seen Lauren alive, as far as we know. Some have hypothesised that Lauren and Chris snapped this self-portrait in the hammock upon their return; however, as many commenters have pointed out, the photo is extremely well-lit, suggesting that it was still daylight when it was taken. I noticed this as well, and I don’t know what to make of it. Perhaps the media has misreported the situation, or Chris may have lied to the police by saying they took it late that night. They apparently went to bed after that.
A father and son fishing on the lake on the afternoon of July 26th, at around 4:45 p.m., spot something unusual in the water.
They approach what they believe to be a pair of pink shorts and instead discover the face-down body of a young woman. While the police are trying to get the body out of the cove, Aaron and Chris paddle up to the shore in a canoe. At first, the boys’ actions are questioned when they inquire of the police whether or not they have located their friend.
One of the cops said later that he suspected the whole thing was staged and that the boys had known the body was there the whole time. Lauren was discovered in a cove behind the cliff where the four were camping, but they set up camp on the side of the cliff that overlooked the marina (i.e. the opposite side to the cove). If we assume they had no idea where Lauren was or what had happened to her, then it follows that they launched the canoe in a different direction, away from the marina, to search for her and only happened upon the scene and her body by chance.
It’s possible, of course, but I find it highly improbable.
The officers are interviewing the boys, and the boys have a nervous, uncaring demeanour, according to the officers.
While the body’s identification leads detectives to believe it is that of missing person Lauren Agee, they are concerned that her disappearance wasn’t reported until 14 hours after she was last seen. Later interviews with other Wakefest goers revealed their denial that they had missed Lauren’s absence on the final night because they were too busy having fun.
Reports from many of the detectives present that day stated that Hannah, Aaron, and Chris did not appear to be concerned about their friend’s disappearance. Unfortunately, she had forgotten her shoes and other belongings on the cliff where they had camped. I think it’s extremely unlikely that Lauren could have climbed the cliff face barefoot, so the only way she could have left voluntarily would have been to jump.
But she’d have to do it in the wee hours of the morning, while blinded by alcohol and without a single possession. It’s unclear why she decided to take that risk. An alternate explanation is that she was being ferried to safety. That makes sense, but if it’s the case, why haven’t these people spoken up?
Each of the three friends gives a slightly different account of what happened after they were taken to the mainland by boat after discovering the body. Hannah claims Lauren left the campsite at dawn and got into a boat with some strangers, while Aaron insists Lauren never returned with them from the bar. She claimed that she had checked under the hammock and found all of Lauren’s belongings to be there, so she wasn’t too worried about where Lauren had gone.
Chris claims that he didn’t hear or feel Lauren get out of the hammock in the middle of the night, but he believes she got up then.
Even if she got up while everyone else was sleeping and fell off the cliff by accident, I think someone would have heard something. They all claim that when they woke up later that morning, Lauren was nowhere to be found, but their stories about where she went differ widely.
Since they all agreed that she had probably run off with others, they made no plans to notify the authorities or conduct a thorough search for her. On the boat back to the mainland, the three friends and the police have a lengthy discussion, during which the officers note that the group is visibly nervous and that Aaron says, “don’t mention anything, I’ll do the talking” several times.
One of the police officers asks what’s on their minds, and Aaron allegedly replies, “I’m thinking about how I am going to get that gun from your hip and get off this boat.”
Meanwhile, the medical examiner and the police arrive at the shore to investigate Lauren’s body.
Postmortem examination of Lauren’s body revealed she had suffered multiple injuries, including blunt force trauma, a broken nose, broken fingers, bruises, and haemorrhaging on her back and thighs. Still, if Lauren had actually fallen from the cliff while still alive, the fact that she had so little water in her lungs was a bit of a shock. I’m aware of the speculation that she may have died of dry drowning, but the Generation Why group is absolutely correct in pointing out that this is more likely to happen to young children or people in poor health, neither of which describe Lauren.
Officials conclude that the death was accidental and say they suspect no foul play, despite the discrepancies. They figure Lauren was drunk when she fell off the cliff and hit the side of the cliff on the way down, causing her injuries, and then suffered more blunt force trauma when she landed in the water.
While Lauren’s mother is devastated by the news of her daughter’s death, she is relieved to learn that her daughter’s friends have been questioned and released after being cleared of any involvement in her death.
Sherry is very worried about this, but she doesn’t immediately demand an investigation because she believes she lacks sufficient evidence. As time passes, she starts to wonder why Lauren’s friends didn’t report her missing to the authorities sooner.
Sherry claims that one of the responding police officers has since contacted her and expressed doubts that her daughter’s death was the result of foul play. She becomes upset after hearing that the three friends gave conflicting statements about what happened, and she asks for a reexamination of the case, but is turned down.
Kassie Franks said she was just as troubled by what she learned about Lauren’s death and tried to tell authorities about it. She revealed that Aaron Lilly was abusive during their time together, and she showed them photos of her wounds. After an argument in which he bit and choked her, police arrested him on charges of domestic violence. She says Chris Stout had a criminal history as well, with three DUI charges and an accident-related fleeing charge. The police have maintained their position that Lauren’s death was accidental, and they have refused to conduct any further interviews.
After Lauren’s passing, the three friends got back to their routines. After a while of dating, Hannah and Aaron decided to make a life together in Florida and moved there.
Sherry, it is later revealed, contacted Hannah via Skype to inquire about her daughter’s death. Sherry claims that Hannah then tells her that Lauren went to the restroom during the night and plunged off the cliff while Hannah was not looking. Sherry says that Hannah’s phone rings while Lauren’s mom is on Skype, and that Hannah picks it up. Sherry says she knows the call is from Aaron because she overhears him tell Hannah to “shut up and stick to the story.”
There’s no way for us to know for sure, but if it’s true, these three guys are so incredibly dimwitted that I have no idea how they’ve gotten away with anything.
At the moment, Aaron and Hannah are a married couple with a child.
Sherry hired a private investigator to have the autopsy redone. This shows that Lauren had a throat haemorrhage, which may have been due to choking, but was not mentioned in the initial inquiry.
They were worried, which is why Lauren’s body was never treated with a rape kit. It’s impossible that Lauren was raped, the police say, because she had a tampon in.
The police ruling that this was an accident, despite contradictory evidence, is disappointing.
Perhaps they don’t want to deal with all the police work that would be required to investigate a case with that many potential witnesses, but that’s still no excuse for subpar investigation.
In the same way that Chris and Aaron were canoeing to the location where Lauren’s body was discovered, her so-called “friends” were responsible for what happened to her. They seemed to know precisely where her body was.
Not even the police had faith in that, right? I mean, how exactly did they find Lauren’s body?
They continued on with the wake fest as if nothing had happened, but Chris posting that photo to Instagram raises serious suspicions.
Sherry did say that Lauren and Hannah were never particularly close, and thus Hannah could not be considered a true “friend.”
I believe that Lauren was murdered, but that her death was covered up because of the wealth or political connections of Hannah or Aaron. The judge was completely out of line, and the police just wanted to wrap up the case, so clearly one of them has connections. Something doesn’t seem quite right.
Here’s hoping the case is being dealt with in an ethical manner.