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The Medical Student Who Disappeared Into Thin Air

The Brian Shaffer Mystery

By Author Eve S EvansPublished about a year ago 4 min read

It is every person's worst nightmare to be lost in a crowd and never be seen or heard from again. Unfortunately, this is what happened to Brian Shaffer. Shaffer was a medical student who went out with friends to kick off their Spring Break. After entering the bar, Shaffer got lost in the crowded bar. After a while friends assumed he left and had gone home, but this was not the case. Shaffer would never be seen or heard from again.

On Friday, March 31, classes ended at OSU for spring break the next week. Shaffer and his father Randy went out for a steak dinner to celebrate. Shaffer's father noted that he seemed exhausted from having pulled all-nighters earlier in the week.

To further celebrate finishing his final exams, Shaffer, William Florence and some fellow medical students were bar-hopping and enjoyed their evening. This kicked off spring break for the students of Ohio State University College of Medicine. They started their night at the Ugly Tuna Saloona, then moved to a few other places before going back to the Ugly Tuna Saloona. Meredith Reed, a friend of Florence's, drove them back.

During a group celebration before heading home, they noticed Brian Shaffer was missing. They didn't think it was suspicious. After the bar closed and the last call was made, Reed and Florence waited for Brian outside to see if he needed a ride home. When he failed to appear after some time, they assumed he must have already gotten a ride and left. At 2:00 a.m. on April 1, a security camera near the entrance of a Columbus bar recorded Shaffer talking to two women. He then re-entered the bar without any evidence suggesting he had left the area.

Shaffer and Shaffer's girlfriend were scheduled to fly to Miami on Monday morning. When boarding was complete and Shaffer was nowhere to be found, he was officially declared missing. The trip had originally been booked with the assumption that Shaffer would propose during it.

The search for Shaffer began at the Ugly Tuna Saloona, the last place he was seen. The area around South Campus Gateway has a high crime rate, so the bar had security cameras installed. footage from the cameras showed Shaffer, Florence and Reed going up to the main entrance at 1:15 a.m. Shaffer was seen outside of the bar talking to two women around 1:55 a.m., then moving off-camera in the direction of the bar. The last time he was seen was on the bar's security footage, when he re-entered at 1:55 a.m.

After an exhaustive search that covered the city's dumpsters and sewer system, police were unable to find any trace of Shaffer. His abandoned apartment was later burglarized, but it is unclear if this crime is related to his disappearance. Shaffer's father, recently widowed and desperate for a clue in the right direction, consulted a psychic. He was told that Brian's body was resting in water near a bridge. He spent hours wading in the Olentangy River in Columbus with a search party, but they were unable to find him. As you can imagine, he was crushed and feeling defeated.

Unable to move on, Shaffer’s girlfriend, Alexis Waggoner would call his cell phone every night even though it would never ring and go straight to voicemail. One night, however, Waggoner was elated when during one of her evening calls, the phone did in fact ring. It rang three times. With renewed hope, she dialed again her fingers shaking from the adrenaline rush. Although there was no answer, Shaffer's cell phone later pinged a cell tower in Hilliard. This was approximately 14 miles from Columbus, where Shaffer had last been seen. However, after further investigation, it was determined that the ringing and pinging could have been caused by a system glitch, rather than by Shaffer turning his cell phone on.

As the investigation continued, nearly everyone connected to Brian Shaffer or who had been with him on the night he vanished agreed to take a lie detector test. The exception was Clint Florence. Florence's attorney said his client had nothing to hide and felt he had already told police everything he knew about the case. The two women who were last seen with Shaffer have been cleared of any suspicion by the police. They also stated that they were not asked to take a polygraph test.

The police received numerous tips, but none of them led to any significant progress in the case. At a Pearl Jam concert later that year in Cincinnati, lead singer Eddie Vedder took time between songs to ask for tips about Shaffer's disappearance, but none of those were useful either. Possible sightings in Michigan, Texas, and even Sweden were investigated.

Randy Shaffer passed away in 2008 after being struck by a branch while cleaning up debris from a windstorm. An online condolence book was created for him, and someone posted a note that said, “To Dad, love Brian (U.S. Virgin Islands)”. Despite the initial appearance of Brian's note, police determined that it was, in fact, a hoax. The note was posted from a public computer in Franklin County, Ohio. This investigation led to the conclusion that Brian was not alive and well and still missing.

Columbus police are still investigating the disappearance of Shaffer, following up on leads both promising and far-fetched. They've received tips from across the globe, including an alleged sighting in Sweden and a phone call from a woman in Michigan who thought Shaffer was her waiter. They've even received anonymous tips claiming to know the location of the body, but so far these have been unsuccessful.


About the Creator

Author Eve S Evans

After residing in two haunted houses in her lifetime, Eve Evans is enthralled with the world of paranormal. She writes ghost stories based on true events and fictional thriller & horror novels.

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