Alana "Laney" Gwinner


The photo on the left was taken just hours before she disappeared on

December 10, 1997.


 It's been an absolute privilege and an honor to profile Laney Gwinner's case on this site. My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Laney's family. It is my absolute sincere belief and conviction that it is only a matter of time before her killer is brought to justice and I have a message for him. "Your days of walking free are swiftly coming to a close. You took from this earth the precious gift that Laney was to all who knew her and you robbed her of her life and the chance to fulfill her dreams. I am committed to doing everything within my power to see to it that you are brought to justice and I will not cease to see to it that Laney's story continues to go out and that her voice is heard. What you did under the cover of night will soon be exposed for all to see you as the coward you really are. You've evaded justice thus far, but those days are numbered. With every foot step that you hear behind you, you should know, we are closing in on you and it's just a matter of time until you are behind bars where you belong."

Alana “Laney” Gwinner disappeared from Gilmore bowling lanes in Fairfield Ohio just after 12:30 am on Wednesday Dec. 10, 1997. Earlier that day she had passed a college exam that guaranteed her an associates degree in business. She had much to celebrate and much to look forward to. Life was good. At approximately 12:35 am she telephoned her boyfriend who lived less than two miles from the Gilmore bowling lanes to say that she was on her way. She never arrived.

Thirty one days later on January 11, 1998, Laney’s body surfaced in the Ohio River near Warsaw Kentucky nearly 60 miles from where she had disappeared.  Her black Honda Del Sol , license tag # AKP-3607, was nowhere to be found and has yet to be located.  The case grew cold as weeks turned into months that melted into years with no progress made in finding Laney’s killer. Then in 2005, at the insistence of Laney’s family, the case was transferred to the Butler County Sheriff’s office.

Enter Cold Case Unit Detective Frank Smith, a veteran homicide detective of legendary proportions. Detective Smith has over three decades experience in law enforcement and his triumphs have been documented and touted by such television shows as A&E’s series Cold Case Files.

Detective Smith immediately began to pour his heart and soul into the investigation. What had been just two notebooks containing information on the case when Detective Smith took it over grew to over 40 binders filled with information, interviews, leads, polygraph examination results, background checks and much more. 

With methodical and meticulous care in every aspect of the investigation Detective Frank Smith brought the grit and determination that is his hallmark to tracking down Laney’s killer. No morsel of information no matter how small would be overlooked.

To date over 1200 interviews have been conducted and over 100 polygraphs have been given by Det. Smith who is also a certified polygraph examiner. One hundred and twenty nautical miles of the Ohio river have been sonarred with the intention of locating Laney’s black Honda del Sol. No expense has been spared as Detective Smith relentlessly tracks down every single piece of information, closing in on a killer.

Detective Smith will be the first to tell you that he is obsessed with getting his man and he makes no apologies. He lives, eats, and breathes this case. It consumes him and he is determined to find Laney’s killer.
From June 2007 until March 2008 Detective Frank Smith lay confined to a hospital bed as he battled cancer. Laney’s files went with him and every day that he could muster the strength to hold a file, or the phone, he worked Laney’s case from his hospital bed. Even cancer could not deter Detective Smith from the pursuit of justice.

As I sit listening to Detective Smith recount the lengths and the depths of what he has done and is doing to track down Laney’s killer, I realize that Detective Smith is much more than a cold case detective. He is an unstoppable force who will not be denied the truth and there is no doubt in my mind that he will not rest until he has his man. As he continues to speak about the case, his steely determination and passion seems to ignite the very air around us and it gives birth to the delectable anticipation of hard fought success quickly coming into focus. 

Now Detective Smith leans forward in his chair, his voice cracking with great emotion and with pride, and he says with great deliberation and emphasis “We’re close. We are very, very close to solving this case.”  As he speaks I recognize the fiery glint in his eye. It’s the look that every hunter gets as he is closing in on his target, as he senses ultimate victory is just around the corner.  As I continue to listen, a chill passes through me and I know with every fiber of my being that the man who preyed upon Laney, the hunter who stalked her in darkness, has now become the hunted and his days as a free man are quickly coming to an end.






Detective Frank Smith of the Butler County Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit has reason to believe that Laney’s killer placed her into the Ohio river in the Northern Kentucky area. The killer would most likely have needed a ride home and would likely have called a friend or family member to come pick him up in the Northern Kentucky area. This friend may have absolutely no idea that he or she helped a killer get away from the scene of a crime and that he or she holds absolutely invaluable information for Det. Smith.

Detective Smith would like the residents of Northern Kentucky to think back to the wee morning hours of December 10, 1997 and ask yourself where you were and who you were with. What events transpired for you that night and early morning? Did you receive a call to pick up a friend, or to give a friend a ride home?

 If you have any information, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, no matter how unlikely it may seem to you that it would be relevant, I urge you, as does Detective Smith, to call him immediately. You may remain anonymous if you so desire.

We’re rounding third and heading for home in this unsolved mystery and YOU could have the piece that brings Laney’s family the answers they need and brings a killer to justice!






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