Brian Randall Shaffer, 27, disappeared on a night out with friends at a local bar in 2006.
About the Case
Brian Randall Shaffer, 27, was a second-year medical student at Ohio State University (OSU) in April 2006. In the early morning hours of 1 Apr., Brian attended the Ugly Tuna Saloona, a bar near OSU in Columbus, with a couple of friends to celebrate the beginning of spring break. He and his girlfriend, Alexis Waggoner, who was not with him that night, were set to get on a Florida plane on 3 Apr. to finish out the break. Brian was going to propose to Alexis on their trip.
Grainy video footage shows Brian entering the Ugly Tuna that night, but it never shows him exiting the bar. It shows Brian was last seen at the top of the escalator outside the bar at about 1:50 a.m. talking to women who his friend, Clint Florence, knew from Ohio State. Brian walks back inside the bar after the women leave. Florence later told police that he had seen Brian after he returned inside the bar and said they were planning to leave. But he lost track of him.The Columbus Dispatch
Another camera did not show Brian leaving through an emergency exit either. Every single person who entered the Ugly Tuna that night showed up on the security cam leaving the bar, except Brian.
Brian was reported missing, and a search and investigation began. Brian’s car was found at his apartment, and all of his possessions, including his glasses, were still inside untouched.
Police did interview the employees at the bar and the two women Brian was seen talking with before he disappeared. Still, none of them could provide any more additional information. Police never found any blood or other evidence inside the bar.
Florence cooperated with the police shortly after Brian disappeared. But then he lawyer-ed up and refused to take a polygraph test or speak further with the authorities.
Six months after Brian disappeared, his cell phone pinged off a tower in a Columbus suburb, leading most people to believe Brian left on his own accord. When Brian’s father, Randy, passed away, someone left condolences on the online obituary – Love you, Dad. Brian (U.S. Virgin Islands). However, when police traced the comment, it led to a public computer in surrounding Franklin County. Another dead end.
Despite a thorough investigation and several searches for Brian, he has never been found.
Alexis moved on after Brian disappeared. In 2009, she married Eric Noss, and the couple has two children together.
Brian’s mother passed away three weeks before his disappearance. Alexis later said that a few days before he vanished, Brian told her that he was struggling with his mother’s death and that Alexis should move on with someone else. Two weeks before that, he wanted her to go away with him. However, Brian’s family believes he would not have just up and left his life. He loved Alexis and was doing exceptionally well in school. They also do not think he committed suicide.
Brian’s father, Randy, died in 2008 after a tree branch fell on him during a storm.
Brian’s brother, Derek, is the only surviving member of the family, and he and his wife continue to search for Brian.
Source: The Columbia Dispatch,. “Unsolved Mystery: 10 Years Later, Brian Shaffer Still Missing”. 2017. Web. 21 Jan. 2017.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
Brian’s case has been written many times, but I chose it because of the circumstances, and I wanted to give my own opinion on what happened.
This is another case where a young man vanished without a trace after a night out with friends. However, in this particular case, I think the answers are a little more clear.
Because he was not seen exiting the bar on camera, I don’t think he ever left the bar, and something happened inside of it, most likely after it closed. If he left, he should have been seen on cam, and he wasn’t. Everyone else who entered that bar was seen exiting that bar. Brian was not.
This bar does not appear to be very large, so someone else had to have seen Brian after speaking with the women. Florence and the female friend, Meredith, who were with them that night, said they got separated from Brian, which is evident in the video. At the bar closing, they looked for him but could not find him and assumed he went home. They left the bar at around 2:10 a.m. Why didn’t they call his cell phone before leaving?
Now, Brian is last seen on cam talking to the two women at 1:50 a.m. After that, he walked back into the bar. Wouldn’t the usual thing be to find your friends who you came to the bar with so you could leave the bar with them? Yes, it would. So something isn’t right here. How does one disappear between 1:50 and 2:10 a.m. in a busy, crowded bar without anyone seeing anything?
I’m not too fond of the fact that Clint Florence got a lawyer and refused to cooperate after that. WHY? To me, that says he has something to hide. It’s never a good sign when a person lawyers up and refuses to cooperate. He knows way more than he’s saying.
Another theory is that Florence helped Brian disappear. It makes sense because that could be why he doesn’t want to talk to the police. He’s protecting the location of Brian. But that doesn’t explain how Brian was not shown on cam exiting the bar.
I believe Florence is key in solving this case, regardless of what happened to Brian.
And before you say Brian probably fell into a body of water, which is the typical response from people in a case like this, I believe the police searched the local river. I do not think that is what happened here because his body would have been found, as was the case with Joey LaBute in 2016. Not every young man who disappears while on a night out with friends ends up in a body of water. Honestly, I get tired of hearing that theory. Yes, it happens in many cases, but that doesn’t mean it happened in this one. He would have been caught on CCTV somewhere.
I don’t believe he committed suicide either because police most likely would have found his body.
As for his cell phone ping, I believe his killer briefly turned the phone on and then got rid of it once and for all. I’m guessing the person was curious about who called Brian after he disappeared and thought it was safe to check the phone after a few months.
The comment on Randy’s online obituary was clearly a prank. If Brian truly walked away from his life, I highly doubt he would make it so obvious it was from him. In fact, he probably would not have commented at all, or he would have done it anonymously.
I do not think Brian left on his own accord. I believe he was murdered by someone he knew and his body disposed of elsewhere. Brian was set to propose to Alexis. A man who is getting ready to disappear or commit suicide would not have even discussed something like that with anybody, let alone plan for it. Not only that, but a grown man choosing to disappear or kill himself because his mother died? People lose parents all the time. It’s traumatic, but you don’t give up your life because of it.
This case is very similar to that of Corrie McKeague. Both were young men with a promising future. Both were enjoying a night out on the town before their disappearance. Both were seen on surveillance cameras but not after a certain point when they should have been seen. And both vanished into thin air in the early hours. They’re not related, of course – two different countries, but the similarities are kind of eerie.