The photo on the left was taken just hours before she
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
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
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
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.
DO YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION THAT CAN HELP BRING LANEY’S
KILLER TO JUSTICE?
WILL YOU BE THE VOICE THAT BRINGS HER FAMILY THE ANSWERS
THEY'VE BEEN LONGING FOR?
DETECTIVE FRANK SMITH
OF THE BUTLER COUNTY COLD CASE UNIT AT
OF NORTHERN KENTUCKY
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!
BELOW TO CONTINUE