Lauren Spierer Disappearance: Sex Offender Whose Home Was Raided May Be Connected to Other Missing Women, Police Say

Officials say Justin Wagers' lengthy rap sheet spans back at least 10 years and contains several sex offenses

Photo: Jeremy Hogan/Bloomington Herald-Times/Polaris

Indiana authorities on Thursday searched the home of a registered sex offender in connection with the disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer. Now, officials say the man has a lengthy criminal history and may be behind the disappearances of several other women.

Police and FBI agents scoured the former residence of Justin Wagers, a 35-year-old sex offender who has been convicted of multiple sex offenses stretching back at least 10 years ago, and lived in the Martinsville property until his arrest last year for alleged indecent exposure.

Police would not confirm that Wagers is a suspect, only that his former residence was being searched in connection to the case.

“His most recent case is in Johnson County and that’s public indecency,” a spokesperson for the Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office tells PEOPLE, noting that records show the man had a warrant out of Marian County for “performing sexual conduct in the presence of a minor.”

Federal officials tell PEOPLE that they searched Wagers’ house after receiving a tip regarding Spierer, the Indiana University student who vanished from Bloomington in 2011 after a night out with friends.

Spierer’s Mom Hoping Latest Lead Is ‘Not a Dead End’

Authorities say they found nothing relating to Spierer’s case on the property, Fox 59 reports. But Spierer’s mom, Charlene, is holding out hope.

“There have been way too many false leads,” Charlene tells PEOPLE. “I am hoping this latest investigation is not a dead end.”

It is unclear what exactly led investigators to Wagers, but the 35-year-old, who is currently behind bars, has multiple convictions for sex crimes.

Records show that Wagers was convicted of vicarious sexual gratification in 2005 and sentenced to three years in prison. He was released in 2007, records show.

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In August 2015, Wagers was arrested for indecent exposure after allegedly pulling up in his truck near a woman as she rode her bike, yelling, “Hey, lady” and exposing himself to her, according to police records obtained by PEOPLE.

Wagers is expected to appear in a jury trial in April, records show.

He was charged with multiple counts of public indecency in 2001 after several women said he exposed himself and masturbated in public, Fox 59 reports. In 2002, while still on probation for the public indecency charges, he allegedly fondled himself in front of middle school girls at a Martinsville bus stop.

Police told Fox that the man could be involved in the disappearances of several other women, along with Spierer.

However, Wagers’ attorney told NBC News in a statement that he “has no knowledge regarding the disappearance of Lauren Spierer or any other missing person.”

With reporting by JEFF TRUESDELL

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