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How did Brian Shaffer disappear?

by Shauna Mullen 3 months ago in investigation · updated 3 months ago
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The unusual circumstances of Brian Shaffer's disappearance.

On the 31st of March 2006, Brian Shaffer entered the Ugly Tuna Salona and was never seen again. To this day, the mystery of his disappearance remains unsolved.

Brian Shaffer was born on the 25th of February 1979 and grew up in Pickerington, Ohio with his mother, Renee, father, Randy and brother, Derek. He graduated high school in 1997 and enrolled in The Ohio State University as an undergraduate in Medicine. He was described as well natured, smart and hardworking with a creative side. He loved to play the guitar and enjoyed tropical holidays.

Brian Shaffer

Whilst at university, he started a relationship with another medical student called Alexis Waggoner. The relationship between Alexis and Brian was a loving one and everyone said they were happy together. The two of them had plans to go to Miami together for spring break and Alexis was excited.

Brian Shaffer and Alexis Waggoner

Friday March 31st 2006, Brian had finished his second year of studying for a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and The Ohio State University had broken up for spring break. Brian had met his dad at a local steakhouse as the two of them had become very close due to Renee’s passing a couple of weeks prior from a rare bone cancer. During dinner, Randy noticed that Brian looked exhausted from his all nighters to study for his exams and after suggesting going home to rest, Brian shook it off and said he had plans to meet his friends for some drinks.

Around 9PM that night, Brian left his father and met up with his friend William Clint Florence at a nearby bar on High Street. They slowly made their way towards the Arena district of Columbus whilst stopping in multiple bars to do shots of liquor. Just after midnight, Clint’s friend Meridith Reed picked the two men up and drove them to a bar called the Ugly Tuna Salona where she joined them for their final drinks for the night.

William Shaffer and William Clint Florence

Inside the bar everything seemed normal but at one point of the evening Meridith and Clint couldn’t find Brian but didn’t think to worry as it was normal for Brian to wonder after a few drinks. When 2AM rolled around and the bar was closing, they looked around for him and tried to get hold of him multiple times through texts and phone calls. When they couldn’t reach him, they assumed he’d gone home on his own accord and just didn’t tell them.

In the morning, Alexis attempted to call him but it went straight to voicemail but again, there was no cause for worry as she thought he was just sleeping off a hangover. Shortly after, his father, Randy, tried to call him and got the same response. When evening hit, Alexis and Randy started to worry as it was unusual for him not to call back or at least text. However, they waited and assumed he would get hold of them soon.

When the day came for Alexis and Brian to go to Miami, Alexis packed her things and went to the airport where they had previously planned on meeting up. After waiting several hours for him and missing the flight, Alexis called the police and reported him missing.

Police began their search at the Ugly Tuna as this was the last place he was seen and luckily, due to crime rates rising in the local area, the bar had installed security cameras. When looking through the footage, police saw Brian, Clint and Meridith entering the bar at 1:15am using the only public entrance. Brian was seen again at 1:55am having a conversation with two young women, saying goodbye and then moving out of sight of the camera. The cameras never picked up Brian leaving the bar and this was the last time Brian was seen. The last signal from Brian’s phone was at 2:10am when it received a text message from Clint asking his whereabouts.

Entering the bar with friends at 1:15am

Brian speaking to two females at 1:55am

The escalators were the only entrance/exit to the bar. There was a service door, however it led to a construction site as the building the Ugly Tuna Salona was located in was relatively new and unfinished. Police and bar staff counted the amount of people who entered the bar that night and compared it to the amount of people that was seen leaving. The amount of people leaving was one less than arriving. This means that Brian didn’t leave the bar through the public exit and it also means that if he left then he was alone because everyone else was accounted for by the cameras.

The location of the bar had a lot of public security cameras in the area. Police scoured through hundreds of hours of footage but Brian was never seen after the Ugly Tuna Salona. Officers took to the streets with dogs and searched any waste containers and bins. They interviewed local residents but Brian had vanished. Upon searching Brian’s apartment, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. His car was still parked outside and no personal items or clothes were missing. Police started to speculate that he ran away to grieve for his mother due to her passing away only 25 days prior but they couldn’t explain how he wasn’t picked up by any cameras in the area.

After months of no leads the trail was going cold. Alexis would call Brian’s phone every night to hear his voicemail because she found it comforting hearing his voice again. One September night in 2006, Alexis did her usual nightly routine and called Brian’s phone but this time it didn’t go straight to voicemail, it rang out. In disbelief, she called again and it rang out. She reported it to the police straight away who rang the phone themselves. This time it rang once and went to voicemail as if someone hung up the phone. When they tried to call again, it didn’t ring and went straight to voicemail. However, police managed to locate the cell tower it pinged off which was 25 Kilo meters outside of Columbus, Ohio but because Brians phone didn’t have GPS capability that was the closest they could get to any sort of location. Brian’s mobile phone’s operator, Singular, explained that this could be a glitch and nothing more came of it. The case went officially cold at this point.

The distance between the Ugly Tuna Salona and the Cell Tower ping

Brian’s father, Randy, never gave up hope and relentlessly searched for him. He made hundreds of friends along the way. Unfortunately, on September 14th 2008, Hurricane Ike was sweeping through Ohio and Randy was cleaning up debris in his garden when a branch from a nearby tree was ripped off and struck him down. Randy was found dead in his garden by neighbours the next morning. He was 1 of 6 people to die to Hurricane Ike.

So, what happened to Brian Shaffer?

Theory 1:

Brian left to start a new life following his mother's death. He was devastated and was known to be questioning his career path in the weeks leading up to his disappearance. On his myspace profile Brian wrote:

“I really love music and this whole doctor thing is really just a job (only temporary) until I get my band together and put out a record. I want to own an island someday, or at least a beach so I can listen to Buffet all day and drink margaritas with my senorita.”

Although this theory is possible, Randy, Alexis and Derek believed he had too much of a heart to just leave without saying goodbye. This also doesn’t explain why he would avoid the bars main entrance. Detective Andrew Edwards investigated the possibility of Brian disguising himself so he wasn’t picked up by the cameras. He said that with 100% certainty that he didn’t leave through the main escalator exit.

Theory 2:

Brian tried to leave through the service door and got trapped in the construction site and ended up dying. The rest of the building was still under construction and it would have been difficult to find your way out even without alcohol in your system. Brian was ignoring calls only minutes after disappearing which could be explained by a fatal injury. This would also explain why he wasn’t picked up on the CCTV again because he was still in the building. Police have been very vague about the timeline in when they searched the construction site and how thoroughly. To this day, police have not explained any theories as to what they believe has happened to Brian. Is it possible he was buried by cement and that’s why his body hasn’t been found?

Theory 3:

Brian managed to leave the Ugly Tuna Salona and something happened later which led to his death. However, this theory doesn’t explain why his body, clothes, phone or wallet was never found.

Theory 4:

Clint was the only person who spent the whole evening with Brian and was a close friend. If Brian was planning on leaving, he would have told Clint that night. Clint also admitted to police that they had a verbal altercation however the subject of the argument was never revealed. Was Clint angry at Brian? Why did he refuse the polygraph test? When police requested the test, Clint lawyered up immediately and cut off all communication with anyone who knew Brian. What was Clint hiding? It is speculated that at the time of Brian’s disappearance, Clint was into drugs and he didn’t want to take a lie detector test because he didn’t want to ruin his future career path. According to Clint’s linked-in he has a thriving career working as a programme officer at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Brian’s brother, Derek, believes Clint knows something about what happened to him.

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About the author

Shauna Mullen

I like to write about true crime and do small investigations. I also write fiction sometimes

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