Brian Shaffer, a second-year medical student at Ohio State, had a bright future ahead of him. But everything changed on April 1, 2006, when a night out to celebrate the start of spring break ended in his disappearance. Shaffer was last seen leisurely bar-hopping with his roommate when he mysteriously vanished just before 2 a.m. in the company of many bar-goers.
The Disappearance of Brian Shaffer
Brian Randall Shaffer, born on February 25, 1979, in Pickerington, Ohio, was a responsible son and student. He attended Ohio State University (OSU) after graduating from high school in 1997 and later began his studies at the OSU College of Medicine in 2004.
However, as Shaffer told his peers, his true ambition was to form a band. He was drawn to Jimmy Buffet’s tropical lifestyle and adored Pearl Jam enough to get their logo tattooed on his arm.
In 2006, he met his girlfriend, Alexis Waggoner. She was also in her second year of medical school. Those close to the couple believed he planned to propose to her during their spring break trip to Miami, which was scheduled just before Shaffer went missing.
Brian Shaffer’s family was struck by tragedy when his mother died of bone cancer in 2006. Then, on March 31, 2006, Brian Shaffer and his roommate William “Clint” Florence walked to the Ugly Tuna Saloona bar in Columbus’ University District, eager to get their spring finals out of the way.
Shaffer called his girlfriend around 10:00 p.m. to confirm their trip and to tell her he loved her. Waggoner was on her way to see her parents in Toledo before rejoining Shaffer on Monday morning.
Following shots and beers at the Ugly Tuna, the two men strolled through the Arena District and Short North, where they met Florence’s friend Meredith Reed, who offered to drive them back to the Ugly Tuna.
The three of them rode the escalator to the bar’s second-story entrance at 1:15 a.m., according to security footage outside the Ugly Tuna. For some reason, Shaffer reappeared outside before 2:00 a.m. and was seen easily conversing with two women in their twenties before disappearing.
Florence and Reed tried calling him several times but were unsuccessful and left when the bar closed. All weekend, calls from his father, Randy Shaffer, and Waggoner went unanswered. Brian Shaffer missed his flight on Monday morning. That day, he was designated as a missing person.
The Fruitless Search And Eerie CCTV Footage
During the first few days after his disappearance, up to 50 cops were looking for him at the same time. Shaffer’s friends and family were questioned, and everyone passed lie detector tests except his roommate, who refused. Those two women he was seen chatting with were not asked to take tests for some reason.
Waggoner allegedly called his cellphone every day, but it went to voicemail until one night in September when it rang three times. However, Shaffer’s wireless provider stated that it could have been a computer glitch. Furthermore, his phone was not GPS enabled, so its location could not be determined, but a ping from the phone was detected 14 miles northwest of Columbus at a cell tower.
Despite the fact that Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder spoke about Brian Shaffer’s disappearance at a Cincinnati concert, the Columbus Police Department remained perplexed by the case, despite the evidence they did have.
Brian Shaffer’s final footage from the Ugly Tuna’s security cameras clearly showed him walking offscreen and back toward the bar entrance before disappearing entirely. It’s possible that the cameras simply missed Shaffer as he exited the scene. However, one camera panned continuously while the other was operated manually.
And, while the bar had another exit, it led to a chaotic construction site. Investigators then wondered if Shaffer had vanished on purpose. He could have changed his clothes or gone through the construction site exit. However, Shaffer’s family has always maintained that he had no reason to fake his disappearance. And it appeared that he had more to look forward to than to flee from.
Where Brian Shaffer’s Case Is Now
Brian Shaffer’s family began to lose hope that he was still alive when none of his credit cards, bank accounts, or cell phone were used in more than a year. Shaffer’s only remaining family member is his younger brother, who is still looking for him. In 2020, a photo of what appeared to be an American man who was homeless in Tijuana, Mexico, and who bore an uncanny resemblance to Shaffer went viral.
However, after a thorough facial examination, the FBI determined that it was not him. Brian Shaffer would be 42 years old if he were still alive. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation released a digital mock-up of his face to reflect that age progression in the hopes that he will be discovered if he is still alive.
Brian’s Case is still unsolved and For anyone who does, Central Ohio Crime Stoppers has offered a $100,000 reward.