I am passionate about missing persons cases due to a personal family experience of having someone go missing in my family.
Brian Shaffer was Caucasian with light brown hair and hazel eyes. He stood at 6’2 and weighed about 165 pounds. He was 27 years old when he disappeared and had a tattoo of Pearl Jam's 'Stickman’ on his upper right arm. He had a noticeable black spot on his left iris and he would sometimes wear wire-framed glasses.
He was last seen wearing an olive green polo short-sleeved shirt over a long-sleeved white shirt, blue jeans, white Adidas sneakers and, a yellow rubber cancer awareness bracelet.
Missing from Columbus Ohio and is classified as endangered missing.
Brian was born on February 11th, 1979, to Renee and Randy Shaffer. He had a younger brother Derek and grew up in Pickerington Ohio. He was highly interested in music and played the guitar. He graduated from Pickerington High School in 1997 and went to Ohio State University to get his bachelor's degree in Microbiology and graduated in 2003. He was still attending OSU and was a medical student when he met a girl named Alexis Waggoner. The two began dating and were together for a year when they decided to take a trip to Miami Florida on April 3rd. The trip was a gift from Brian’s mother who had passed away just three weeks before. His mother had gotten myelodysplasia, a type of bone cancer and her death hit Brian hard. He acted like he was taking it well but a lot of friends and family thought he was hurting more than he let on.
Aside from being a medical student and following a similar career path as his mother, who was a nurse, Brian also expressed his desire for starting up a band and living somewhere tropical. He would often joke about being a beach bum in Florida or quitting school and starting up a band similar to Jimmy Buffet. One of his favorite bands was Pearl Jam as he had a tattoo of their ‘Stickman’ from an Album cover. He played the guitar and had a strong love for music.
March 31st, 2006 Brian and his father went Outback Steakhouse for dinner after classes. Brian’s dad noticed he seemed tired from working all night studying for school. He didn’t think it was a good idea for Brian to go out drinking with his friend that night but decided he was an adult who could make his own decisions.
9:30 pm that night Brian met up with his friend William ‘Clint’ Florence for drinks at the Ugly Tuna Saloona. Brian invited his brother Derek and his wife to come along but they ended up going to the Funny Bone comedy club that night instead. The duo went bar-hopping down to the Arena District. They met up with one of Clint’s friends Meredith Reed, around midnight. She drove them back to the Ugly Tuna Saloona to finish off the night with some live music and a few more drinks.
While at the bar it was mentioned Brian and Clint got into a verbal altercation. Clint and Meredith ended up losing Brian sometime around 1:30 am and 2 am, and security cameras caught him outside of the bar talking with two college-age girls then returning to the bar. That was the last time he was seen. Nobody saw him leave the establishment, his friends waited for him outside of the bar but when he didn’t turn up they thought he went home without them.
The following day Brian’s friends and Girlfriend Alexis tried calling him but got no answer. They figured he was still sleeping from the night before, but they got worried when Brian never showed up for his flight to Miami with Alexis. April 3rd when the trip was set to take place, Brian never showed up and still wasn’t answering any calls or texts. Alexis contacted Brian’s father and he filed a missing person report.
Police searched the Ugly Tuna Saloona and surrounding areas and watched all the security footage they could gather but only ever saw Brian entering the bar, never leaving it. It’s possible he exited through a fire escape/ backdoor that led to a construction area that had no cameras but why would he leave that way? They brought out police dogs as well but the dogs didn’t pick up anything of use.
Brian’s car was found in the parking lot of his apartment building and he hadn’t used his cellphone, credit cards, or bank account since his disappearance. His father started a search of the Olentangy River but came up with nothing.
Due to the account of Clint and Brian having a verbal altercation at the bar, police wanted him to come in for a polygraph test but Clint hired a lawyer and refused to take the test. Alexis and Derek both believe Clint knows something more but won’t tell anybody. They don’t trust him and believe if Brian ran off somewhere that Clint knows where he is. Despite this, the police had no other evidence that Clint wanted to hurt Brian or that he knows of where he’s located so they didn’t pursue him further.
The lead singer of the band Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder, even announced Brian’s case during one of their shows. He spoke about how he was one of them, a fan, and told the crowd if they knew anything to contact authorities.
In September 2008, Randy Shaffer passed away due to a freak accident. During a storm a tree fell and struck him, killing him.
2019 Possible Lead
In late 2019 a photo of an American homeless man in Tijuana Mexico surfaced and many people believed it looked like Brian. Local authorities got in contact with the FBI who investigated for 4 weeks into this new lead. They used advanced facial recognition analysis software and determined the homeless man was not Brian Shaffer.
One theory is that Brian was murdered that night. While police have not definitively ruled out foul play, it’s a low probability as they have found no evidence supporting such an incident as murder. No forced entry to his home, no video footage showing any physical altercations, and, Sergeant Detective John Hurst doesn't believe there was foul play involved. One interesting thing that Hurst said in an interview about Brian’s case is that if Brian got into the construction area he “got exited out” of there. This bizarre wording has caused a lot of speculation and even more theories of what could have happened to Brian.
Another theory is that Brian may have killed himself be it on purpose or accident. With the passing of his mother, the stress of school work and, him seeming to be already exhausted that night, drinking might have pushed him over the edge. Maybe he got to his breaking point that night and decided to just end it all, maybe he got too drunk and had an accident in the construction area across the way from the bar. Once again Hurst told the media he believes this is a low probability as people who intentionally kill themselves usually want to be found, and they never discovered a body and the dogs didn’t detect anything in the area.
The third theory I’ll talk about is that Brian simply disappeared on his own accord. This is one of the more believed theories. With his mother passing away, and his vocalization of wanting to start a music band over being a doctor, it’s possible that he decided to leave everything behind that night and start over. He made it clear to several people close to him that his true passion was music and that he wanted to live somewhere tropical and warm. He even asked Alexis before he disappeared if she would “go away” with him. He also told her to move on and find someone else before he disappeared.
There is a $100,000 reward for information leading to Brian. If you have any information you are urged to contact the Columbus Ohio Police Department at 614-645-4545.
You can also contact CrimeStoppers at 1-877-645-8477
FBI ViCAP number is 800-634-4097
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.