Investigators Ruled Lauren Smith-Fields's Death An Accident, But Many Suspect Foul Play

The death of Lauren Smith-Fields caught national attention and added to discourse about racial bias in missing persons and death investigations. Just weeks before Christmas 2021, 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields died in her Connecticut apartment under what some consider suspicious circumstances. When police arrived at the scene, the only witness to Smith-Fields's death was a man she had met on Bumble just three days prior.

In the weeks following her untimely death, Smith-Fields's family alleged that local police violated their civil liberties and demonstrated racial discrimination.

At the time of her death, Smith-Fields was studying to be a physical therapist and was considered an influencer on Instagram and YouTube. "No one is going to discard my daughter as rubbish," Shantell Fields told a crowd at a rally on what would have been Smith-Fields's 24th birthday. "She had a life, she had a business, she was in college, and she had a family and friends that love her," Fields added.

This list unpacks what we know about the death and alleged murder of Lauren Smith-Fields.

  • On December 12, 2021, Police Found Lauren Smith-Fields Dead In Her Apartment


    A post shared by Lauren Smith (@soooolalaa)

    On the morning of December 12, 2021, Bridgeport, CT, police responded to a 911 call claiming that a woman was not breathing. Police arrived at the apartment of 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields and reportedly found her lying on the floor with a man performing compressions on her chest. Authorities noted that she did not appear to be breathing and had dried blood around her right nostril.

    The man identified himself as Matthew LaFountain, who had gone on a date with Smith-Fields the night before. LaFountain was said to have been "visibly shaken" when police arrived and had been the one to place the 911 call after finding Smith-Fields unresponsive.

  • Matthew LaFountain, Who Smith-Fields Met On A Dating App, Was Staying With Her On The 11th When She 'Fell Ill'

    Matthew LaFountain, a 37-year-old white man, had come over to Smith-Fields's home at 9:30 pm on December 11 after matching with her on the dating app Bumble three days prior. According to LaFountain, it was the first time they had met.

    LaFountain stated that Smith-Fields had told him to bring tequila and $40 so she could get her nails done. LaFountain said they began taking shots of tequila until Smith-Fields became ill and vomited in the bathroom. LaFountain and Smith-Fields then drank more alcohol, ate dinner, "played games," and had started watching a movie before Smith-Fields fell asleep.

    LaFountain also noted Smith-Fields had briefly left her apartment to get something from her brother outside before going into the bathroom for 10-15 minutes.

  • Smith-Fields Had Reportedly Been Dead For 'At Least An Hour' By The Time Medics Arrived

    LaFountain stated that after Smith-Fields fell asleep during the movie they were watching, he carried her into the bedroom and proceeded to sleep on the bed next to her. He awoke once around 3 am and claimed Smith-Fields was snoring.

    When LaFountain woke up at 6:30 am on December 12, he reportedly realized Smith-Fields wasn't breathing. LaFountain also noticed that Smith-Fields was bleeding from her nose.

    Upon arriving at the scene at 6:59 am, emergency personnel were unable to revive Smith-Fields and determined that she had been dead for at least one hour.

  • Authorities Did Not Name LaFountain As A Person Of Interest

    When Smith-Fields's family found out LaFountain was the person with her when she died, they were reportedly shocked he was not a person of interest in the case. Apparently, LaFountain had given police a written statement but was never taken in for questioning in relation to Smith-Fields's death.

    Smith-Fields's brother, Lakeem Jetter, stated authorities told the family LaFountain was "a nice guy," had been "frantic" when they arrived at the scene, and that it wasn't necessary to question him. Jetter explained he felt as though the police were "sticking up" for LaFountain, which he found strange.

    The family's attorney, Darnell Crosland, pointed out that the last person to see someone alive is usually "pivotal" in a death investigation.

  • No One Notified Smith-Fields's Family Of Her Death

    Lauren Smith-Fields's family went to her apartment when she stopped responding to their texts and phone calls. When they arrived, there was a note on the door from Smith-Fields's landlord that read, "If you are looking for Lauren, please contact this number." Only then did the family learn their loved one was dead.

    The family said when they initially called Detective Kevin Cronin, the lead detective on the case, he stated he would come over to speak with them in a half-hour, but he never arrived. After an hour passed, the family reportedly called Cronin again, who told them to stop calling before hanging up on them.

    Police later claimed they didn't need to contact the family since they knew Smith-Fields's identity based on her cell phone, ID, and passport, which were all found in the apartment.

  • Authorities Ruled Smith-Fields's Death An Accidental Overdose

    The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner eventually ruled Smith-Fields's cause of death an accidental overdose. Smith-Fields's autopsy and toxicology reports reportedly confirmed "acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol" caused her to have an "accidental overdose."

    Smith-Fields's family maintains she did not do drugs. Family lawyer Darnell Crosland noted after the toxicology reports came back, "Now to find out that all of these substances are in their daughter’s body that basically took her life, they’re so angry right now. This looks further like a manslaughter."

    The autopsy findings did, however, activate a criminal investigation into Smith-Fields's death led by Bridgeport Police's narcotics division and the DEA.