Lauren- age 18
High School Graduation
Who Was Lauren Faith (Smith) Bolte?
Lauren Faith Smith was the third child and first daughter of Myron and Marya Smith. She was found murdered in her bed six weeks after her marriage to Stanley Bolte. She had just turned 19 years old. Her death remains a cold case in Nebraska to this day.
The Lauren Faith Smith Ministry For Nonviolence is a nonprofit which memorializes this tragedy. Our whole family and all who knew her as a child have been permanently scarred by this tragic death, its precursors, and its aftermath. Through this nonprofit, we seek to continue the work she would have done if she were alive today.
Below are some mementos from the past, who we are, and what we do.
Lauren Bolte’s Death Ended a Bright Life
Tom Cook, Lincoln Journal Star
Tuesday, August 3, 1976
Seward- Although investigation of the shooting death three weeks ago of Lauren Bolte, 19, of Milford is continuing, one thing is certain: a bright and promising life has ended.
Erich Helge, dean of students at Concordia Teachers College, where Mrs. Bolte was to be a sophomore, described her as an excellent musician with a fine future.
“She was a very outgoing person,” he said. “I always took her to be a very sincere and honest person. And she was never without a smile.”
Mrs Bolte was found with a small-caliber rifle-bullet wound in her head July 12 and died that night in a Lincoln hospital. Seward County Atty. Curtis Evans says the incident is being investigated and that the results are not likely before the end of the week.
The lengthy investigation has fueled the rumor mill in Seward County, and Helge says he has received many concerned calls himself.
“They have not anticipating any decision,” Helge said. “They just wish they could get one made.”
The college will hold a memorial service sometime in November for the young student, who was trying to determine how best to use her talents, Helge said.
“She was vacillating between becoming a teacher and a director of Christian education, which is a position in our church (Lutheran) where a person is assigned to a parish to deal with total Christian education,” he said.
Mrs. Bolte’s father, Myron Smith of Schenectady, N.Y., said he would like to attend memorial services. He would not comment on the death of his daughter pending results of the investigation, which he expects to be concluded at the end of this week.
Met at School
Lauren met her husband, Stanley, who grew up in Seward, last fall at school. The couple had been married and living in Milford only six weeks before Lauren’s death.
Stan, who also is a musician, left school during the spring semester to work fulltime for Pinkerton’s Inc. in Lincoln, where Mrs. Bolte was employed this summer.
In addition to her heavy involvement in college music groups, Lauren and her husband joined the Seward City Band recently.
Mrs. Bolte had a deep fondness for children, Helge said, and was a counselor during her high school summers in New York.
In the short time she spent in Milford, Mrs. Bolte developed a special attachment with a deaf child named Mike Soukup.
Ellie Soukup, mother of “Little Mike” said Mrs. Bolte helped her son, who just finished his first year at the Nebraska School for the Deaf, learn to communicate.
New Word Learned
Because of Lauren’s death, Little Mike has learned a new word: lonesome.
The word lonesome came up last weekend because Stan (Bolte) came in and was crying,” Mrs. Soukup said. “How do you explain it?”
At the time of the shooting, Mike Sr. was the first one Stan called because be couldn’t remember the rescue squad number, Mrs. Soukup said.
“Mike (Sr.) was the first one there, and the whole thing was terrible for him and afterwards for Little Mike,” she said. “But there’s one thing about it, Little Mike won’t have to go through much worse in his life.”
The two couples played cards together and shared a mutual love for Little Mike.
“We were old enough to be their parents,” Mrs. Soukup said. “But it was just like we were friends.”
Original Newspaper Article
Lauren at age 14
Lauren at age 19 right after her wedding
July 17, 1976, letter from an upstate New York camp where Lauren worked summers during high school...
Funeral Service Bulletin
Officer still suspects convicted murderer in 1976 Milford slaying
-Leah Thorsen, Lincoln Journal Star
Monday, May 3, 2004
The man investigators believe killed Lauren Bolte sits in a Minnesota prison. He's a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. But Lauren Bolte has nothing to do with Stanley Bolte's imprisonment. And 27 years after Lauren's death, her family's only wish is that nobody else suffer, said her mother. "We don't want to hurt the Bolte family," said Marya Smith, of Schenectady, N.Y.
Lauren's homicide, initially ruled a suicide, remains unsolved, but maybe someone remembers something that could close the case, said Sgt. Robert Frank, the Nebraska State Patrol's cold case investigator.
Stanley Bolte told authorities he found Lauren, his wife of six weeks, bleeding from the head at roughly 10 p.m. on July 12, 1976. She lay in the bedroom of the trailer in Lot 1 of the Skyline Trailer Court in Milford. The bolt-action Remington rifle that fired the fatal shot lay on the living room couch.
"For it to be a suicide, she would have had to move it herself," Frank said of the gun. "No way."
Stanley Bolte said he'd been playing pool that night at the Milford Recreational Center with a friend, according to investigation reports. He has denied any wrongdoing. Lauren, who had no history of depression or suicidal thoughts, died a few hours later, according to reports.
"This girl had no reason to shoot herself," said Frank, who has no doubt Lauren was murdered.
The shot that killed her was fired at least six inches from the left side of her head from a rifle. There was no blood on the rifle. Five bullet holes peppered the living room floor, according to reports. These things weren't enough to make an arrest.
But for Stanley Bolte, it was the beginning of a span of turbulent years that would include a 1977 rape conviction in Texas. He moved to Minnesota in 1987 after losing more than $120,000 gambling in Nebraska, according to published news reports. That year, he was convicted of posing as a police officer and telling gay men he would out them if they didn't give him money.
In 1993, authorities found the body of Joe Battey buried in a field behind Stanley Bolte's home in Rochester, Minn. Battey had been shot in the back of the head.
In the days after Battey disappeared, someone called Battey's mother saying he was a gang member who kidnapped her son and demanded $20,000 ransom, published reports say.
Those calls were traced to Stanley Bolte, who a jury convicted of first-degree murder.
During his trial, Bolte testified he met Battey while searching for a third man to appear in a male-only pornographic movie with him.
Efforts to contact Stanley Bolte, now 48, were not successful.
Meanwhile, Lauren's family has made peace with what happened to Lauren, the girl who earned the nickname "Sunshine" as a child, said her mother.
"No matter how much we do, it's not going to bring her back," said Marya Smith, 73.
Lauren had been a freshman studying to be a Lutheran deaconess at what is now Concordia University in Seward. She moved from her family in New York because the college offered a wonderful deaconess program, Smith said. Lauren, who would be just shy of her 47th birthday, dreamed of working with children in a church setting.
But Frank hasn't lost hope the truth about Lauren's death can be told. In 1997, he and another Patrol investigator went to the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, where Lauren's former husband is jailed.
Stanley Bolte, he said, refused to answer any questions.
WHO WE ARE
The purpose of the Lauren Faith Smith Ministry for Nonviolence is to carry on the work Lauren might have accomplished if she were alive.
Our values center on universal nonviolence and sustainability through what we call applied spirituality. While the Lauren Faith Smith Ministry for Nonviolence is an interfaith organization (which is welcoming to those with no faith at all), applied spirituality in the Christian tradition is simply, what would Jesus do? Other faith (and even nonfaith) traditions have similar values and we hold those values equally sacred.
As noted online and through the evening news, violence expresses itself continuously in global, national, and local circumstances, and even within families. There are many forms of violence, not all of which overtly draw blood, but are damaging, just the same. Types of violence include physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, spiritual, emotional, social-economic and systemic- anything hurtful or harmful. Regardless of type, the end results include pain, suffering, death, and destruction which inevitably creates more of the same unless the cycle is broken. The Lauren Faith Smith Ministry for Nonviolence seeks to break that cycle by using education, spirituality, advocacy, and activism to reduce violence.
In 2023, we are emphasizing homelessness, veteran’s needs, mental illness, sustainability, and reasonable weapons control. For instance, we currently have a sustainability program that emphasizes reducing utility bills in other nonprofits. Starting in May, we also have a weekly peer-to-peer coffee shop gathering/meeting open to anyone where we provide a meal and good conversation. Additionally, we are working with other veterans’ nonprofits to build small homes for the homeless with an emphasis on veterans. Finally, through advocacy and collaboration, we are working with those in power to create a more equitable world for everyone.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mark Smith is our President and acting executive director. "Brother Mark" is Lauren's oldest brother. He is a retired technology and electronics small business owner, a veteran, a father, partner, and grandfather. He has lived a very experiential life which has resulted in his idealism taking center stage as an organizer, activist, writer, and educator.
Dr. Jon Pahl is our Vice President. He is the author of seven books, a licensed minister, a seminary professor, a husband, father and grandfather. His teaching and authorship have led to many eclectic international experiences and global adventures. Thank you for being on our board, Jon!
Richard Henes is our Treasurer. He is widely known as an expert and leader throughout the Midwest in the fields of sustainability and renewable energy. He has a versatile skillset in the trades and is also a veteran. Thank you for being our treasurer, Richard!
Carmen Brown grew up in the Fox River Valley. As the oldest of six children, she had many responsibilities and learning experiences growing up. Carmen is a wife, mom and grandmother. Now retired, she taught middle school science in public schools for 34 years. She strongly care for others, including forms of life other than people. Carmen is a staunch supporter of protecting our planet and using its resources wisely. Thank you for being our secretary, Carmen!
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