27-YEAR-OLD BRIAN SHAFFER, AN OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL STUDENT, GOES MISSING ON APRIL 1, 2008. HIS DISAPPEARANCE AND POTENTIAL MURDER IS THE MOST PERPLEXING UNSOLVED MYSTERY ON THE INTERNET.
Friday, March 31st, 2006 students at Ohio State rejoiced, exams were over, and spring break was officially in full swing.
OSU Medical student Brian phones his brother Derek in hopes of getting together; however, Derek already had plans, so Brian instead decided to go bar-hopping with his friend and former roommate William “Clint” Florence.
Brian appeared tired from the late-night studying, but he seemed happy and in good spirits. Randy Shaffer, Brian’s father, wanted to tell his son that he may want to get some rest instead hanging out with his friends, but could not work up the courage to speak out.
The father and son part ways saying goodbye, unknowingly for the last time. Around 9:00 p.m. Brian meets Clint under a sign on High Street that reads “fresh fish, ugly owners” – the tagline for the second-floor bar, and seafood restaurant dubbed the ugly tunas Aluna.
An hour later, Brian calls his long-time girlfriend, Alexis Waggoner, who is in Toledo visiting her parents. They both seem excited for their upcoming trip to Miami on Monday for Spring break, and Alexis secretly believes that Brian is going to propose during the trip.
The phone conversation is routine and ordinary; nothing seems off. Brian tells Alexis he loves her, and he will see her when she gets back into the city. Clint and Brian make their way through the area’s bars towards the arena district.
As their custom, they take a shot of hard liquor at each establishment before moving on to the next.
According to Clint, it is close to midnight when his friend Meredith joins the duo at the North Shore Bar. The trio eventually walks back to the Ugly Tuna Salona where a local rock band plays amidst bar-goers.
WHERE THE HELL IS BRIAN SHAFFER?
Around 1:55 a.m., a few minutes before closing time, both Clint and Meredith lose track of Brian. Several online forums allege that Brian told Meredith and Clint he was going to talk to the live band, although this information is not verified.
It’s now closing time, and Brian is nowhere in sight. The pair began searching for him, calling his name and looking in the bathrooms.
They do not find Brian.
Not suspecting anything suspicious and maybe they just missed him in the massive crowd of people, they wait outside as the bar-goers start to leave.
At 2:10, both Clint and Merideth assume their friend Brian walked back to his apartment on his own. They go their separate ways, thinking nothing more about the strange absence of their friend.
The next morning Alexis called Brian, but there was no answer and as the hours ticked past she called, again and again, growing more concerned with each unanswered ring.
Randy Shaffer also tried reaching his son that weekend but was unable to get a hold of him.
Alexis, now more concerned than before visits by Brian’s apartment multiple times that weekend, a routine that soon developed into a habit lasting several weeks.
She fears the worst; Brian has disappeared.
Randy Shaffer also checks for Brian at the apartment but found nothing out of place. Brian’s medical school textbooks were all aligned on the shelves, as usual, his bed made, and his car was still parked outside, but Brian was gone.
The following Monday (April 3rd), the day that both Alexis and Brian planned to catch a flight to Miami for spring break, arrives and there is still no sign of the missing med student.
Alexis goes to the airport hoping that Brian will show up explain his absence and life will go on as usual. However, that’s not what happened, and she reports Brian Shaffer as a missing person to the Columbus Police Department.
POLICE SEARCH RELENTLESSLY, EVEN THROUGH THE SEWERS
Law enforcement immediately searches beginning at the Ugly Tuna and fanning outward until they scoured each dumpster and nearby alley. Police search dogs are called in and after learning Brian’s scent, started to search the streets and adjacent construction zone.
Police question business owners and neighbors in the area, hoping someone has information on the missing man.
Extensive searches of the Olentangy River, running through the city, and even sewer systems, but there are zero traces of Brian.
Missing posters created highlighting Brian’s distinctive spot in his iris and his tattoo the cover art for Pearl Jam’s single alive.
Police search Brian’s apartment, but nothing appears to have been taken or packed, and they also discover that none of Brian’s credit cards or bank accounts showed any activity since he vanished.
Nearby hospitals and transport stations have no record of Brian checking in or attempting to leave.
STRANGELY, BRIAN DOES NOT SHOW UP ON ANY CCTV FOOTAGE
As far as security video is concerned, Columbus Ohio at the time was the most surveyed city in the entire state, having more CCTV cameras than Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo combined.
South Campus Gateway area is known for having above-average crime rate, which is why many local bars installed cameras outside their establishments.
Unfortunately, however, nearby business surveillance footage showed no trace of Brian in the area that night. The last footage of Brian is seen walking back towards the Ugly Tuna at 1:55 a.m.
Brian, Clint, and Meredith are seen coming up the escalator to the Ugly Tuna’s front entrance, and that same camera captures Brian standing just outside the bar around 1:55 a.m. conversing with two college-age girls.
The girls, Brighton and Amber, may have known Brian as some reports suggest. There is nothing off about Brian’s behavior during the video capture of the conversation, just a friendly chat.
I have seen some claiming to see the women fighting in the video, but multiple sources disagree and not to mention security standing just mere feet away seems unconcerned.
Either way, not long after he says goodbye he walks out of the cameras line-of-sight presumably to re-enter the establishment before closing.
It is Brian Shaffer’s last-known whereabouts.
Brian never walked out of the bar that night. Video footage from the entrance of the bar has been analyzed extensively by law enforcement. At one-point detectives surmised that Brian might have changed clothes (new shirt or hat) to avoid being noticed by the cameras. However, Detective Andre Edwards accounted (one-by-one) for every person entering the front of the bar and accounted for every person leaving.
DID BRIAN SHAFFER ESCAPE THROUGH THE BACKDOOR?
However, Brian did have another possible route through the construction areas around the bar that wasn’t under surveillance.
A door leading through a large construction site, not easily accessible, does eventually lead out to the back street.
However, why would Brian walk through a construction site instead of the front door?
Plus police search dogs failed to pick up any of Brian’s scent around the construction zone.
BRIAN’S FRIEND REFUSED TO TAKE A POLYGRAPH TEST. WAS HE INVOLVED?
Both Randy Shaffer and Meredith agreed to take a polygraph test, and both passed. Clint Florence, however, upon being asked to take the test refused and then lawyered up.
Clint wasn’t silent though, as he talked to a few media on camera about the case.
Police also failed to conduct a polygraph test on both of the girls that Brian was spotted talking to on camera that night.
LET’S TALK PROBABILITIES
When a case as strange as this emerges, speculations and theories are abundant, and most fall under two categories. Those who believe Brian managed to exit the bar without being spotted by any cameras and those who believe that Brian never left the bar and that something happened to him while inside.
Possibility One – Brian exits the bar.
Let us say Brian was able to exit the Ugly Tuna of his own volition without being spotted by CCTV.
We have already ruled out the possibility that he left through the front entrance, leaving only the emergency exit as his only option.
All right, if he did manage to go out the back, he would have to take a construction elevator down to the first floor or the rusted service ladder.
If Brian did take this route, which is possible, he would still have been spotted leaving the back by the numerous cameras all around the vicinity. However, he was not detected.
Even if he did make it out the back and for some reason the cameras did not record him. Where did he go from here? And why?
Possibility Two – Brian never left the bar.
As creepy as this sounds, there is also a possibility that Brian never left the Ugly Tuna and is ‘still there’ even 10 years later.
Deceased of course and maybe hidden in the walls or the floor.
We know that Brain was devastated when his mother passed away only four months prior and this is certainly a motive to escape.
In fact at one point the police surmised that Brain had taken a short hiatus to grieve his mother’s death in private.
But how rational is this? Brian’s father is also grieving and now his son vanishes and leaves him with double the stress as before?
Brian could of also left and committed suicide, but where is his body?
WHAT’S YOUR THEORY?
There are numerous theories on this strange case, too many to list in fact. Many believe that Brian skipped town to start a new life in the Caribbean, while others believe he was another unfortunate victim of the Smiley Face Killers.
What do you think happened to Brian Shaffer?