colour head shot of a dark haired young man,

Brian Randall Shaffer

This is either fascinating as an unsolved murder, mildly interesting as a missing person or a case of who knows? Brian Shaffer was a 27 year old medical student in Columbus, Ohio. This clean cut guy went on a bar crawl one night with a friend. Nothing much happened. He had no debts, he was good at school and he was due to go on a trip to Miami with his girlfriend. Then nothing.

colour head shot of a dark haired young man,
Brian Randall Shaffer

Brief Circumstances.

In the first couple of hours of 1st April 2006, Brian Randall Shaffer, was drinking in various bars with his friend William Florence. The Arena District is mentioned and it sounds like a good time was had by all. No incidents were reported, no accidental knocking over of brawler type’s drinks. All was rowdy I guess as it was just as the Spring Break was starting but beery peace reigned over Columbus.

The pair had started the night at the Ugly Tuna Saloona. This bar was in the Gateway Complex almost in the centre of town. It was there that they ended the night. By that time they had been joined by a friend of Mr Florence, Meredith Reed. So at that point there is nothing to say. Probably everyone reading this will have many such nights in their mind. It was almost closing time. Much alcohol had been consumed and Mr Schaffer is seen outside of the bar chatting to a couple of girls. Then with only a few minutes before the bar was to close he goes back inside.

That folks is the last that is seen or heard of him. The bar was inside the complex and the only public way out is down some stairs, all on camera. It looks like any floor level of any shopping mall type building.

Mr Shaffer had split from his friends a little time before but not in a farewell type way. He had just drifted off as you tend to in that sort of situation. They looked for him at one point but presumed he had gone home. After a bit they did just that. Again if you think of those sort of nights that you may have had. A crowded bar, lots of drinks. You can be in the same place looking out for a friend and miss them in the melee.

As he was due to be on a flight with his girlfriend on Monday morning and did not show up, she alerted his family and the police began to look for him. They talked to his friends, they talked to the bar staff. They talked to the band that had been playing. They checked the dumpsters and the construction site at the back. It was possible Mr Schaffer had got out through a staff exit but it was not likely. It is possible he had wandered then onto the construction site but there is no evidence of that. A theory goes he somehow changed clothes and got out past the camera yet again it is just a theory.

When it comes to motive for a voluntary disappearance Mr Schaffer had lost his mother to illness a month before. It was also said that he liked the more easy, laid back life style of playing in a band than becoming a doctor. There is though no actual evidence he would disappear in that way.

His poor father, recently widowed, now had to look for his son and he did much to try and find him. Tragically Randy Shaffer was killed in an accident in 2008. Some scum bag even posted a hoax message from Brian on an online condolence site. Marvellous eh?

Polygraphs were widely used to try and get information from those around Brian Shaffer. Some say curiously William Florence refused to take the test. Others say it is not curious as the polygraph is unreliable and often people refuse because it can indicate guilt where there is none. At the time of writing nothing more is known about Mr Schaffer’s whereabouts.

The video is a quick over view. If you skip to the CCTV footage it starts at about the 2:15 mark.

My Take

We have a case here where a guy called Corrie McKeague went missing after a night out. He was drunk and walking around city streets. Then he disappeared from camera view. After several years and exhaustive enquiries they traced his likely path into a dumpster and from there to a local garbage dump.

It turned out he tended to tuck out of the way for a sleep if he was really drunk. Dumpsters or even smaller wheelie bins were favourite places for him to go. They tracked the weights of various pick ups by garbage trucks and found one that was just his weight heavier than normal. They still have not found his body but the evidence is strong.

In another case I saw, a construction worker explored a conversion site he was working on. It was one of those old factories that was being turned into apartments. Some of the original features were being kept and one of these was a big chimney. It was off limits, however, it looks like the guy went and had a look in it. It was a holiday weekend. He became trapped and was found dead several days later.

Getting back to Mr Shaffer. He was young, very drunk and went missing from an area as if vanished. The evidence suggests he wanted to carry on with his life as it was. Certainly for an intelligent guy who already had a degree level education it would have been easier to step out of his life into another while being upfront. There was no debt, despite daft posts online, no evidence of addiction. He had suffered a bad bereavement though he had not lost his head or sunk into depression to any major degree. I have seen it suggested he was attacked after slipping out of the bar. I have seen it said it was 2-3 men who killed him. All that is said without a shred of a clue to support it.

His friend did not take a polygraph which has led to suggestions that he knew more about the disappearance than he was letting on. Maybe he did help Shaffer disappear and even knows where he is. There just is no evidence of it.

Finally…I say I don’t know. Could he have got out of the complex unseen? Yes. Has he been seen since? No. That is as much as anyone can say really. What do you think?