Brian Shaffer – where is he?

Brian Shaffer had the world at his feet in 2006. He had obtained a degree in Microbiology and in his second year of studying Medicine at The Ohio State University. He had an ambitious girlfriend, Alexis Waggoner, who was also studying to become a doctor.

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Brian and Alexis

Brian and Alexis were planning to head to Miami for Spring Break on April 3, 2006. Many people in their social circles believed that Brian might propose to Alexis during this vacation. They were both looking forward to the break – it had been a rocky start to the year for Brian and his family. His mother Renee died in March 2006 from myelodysplasia.

The same man seen in the infobox, here shown smiling with his teeth showing wearing a white doctor's coat over a shirt and tie, standing on the left of a smiling older woman with red hair and rosy cheeks wearing a black print dress with a pale yellow jacket. Behind them is a tage with a portion of a large seal visible
Brian and his mother, Renee

March 31, 2006 – Brian disappears

Brian’s classes wrapped up for Spring Break on March 31, 2006, a Friday. He and his father Randy went to dinner that night to celebrate. Randy thought Brian looked exhausted after a week of cramming for exams. Brian told Randy of his plans to head out with friends that night after dinner.

At around 9pm, Brian met his friend William ‘Clint’ Florence at the now-defunct Ugly Tuna Saloona in downtown Columbus.

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Ugly Tuna

At 10pm, Brian phoned Alexis.

Brian and Clint continued to bar-hop around Columbus. At each bar, they both had a shot of hard liquor.

At midnight, the pair met up with Meredith Reed. She eventually drove them back to the Ugly Tuna Saloona and they all went inside for a final drink. At some point between around 1 and 2am, when the bar closed, Brian became separated from Clint and Meredith. At first they assumed he was in the bathroom or chatting with other people. They began to call him and every call went unanswered. When they were made to leave as the bar closed, they assumed Brian had made his own way home (his apartment was only 6 blocks from the bar) as he was not able to be found at the venue. They went home.

April 1, 2006

Alexis tried to call Brian the next morning. Her call went straight to voicemail. She thought he may be sleeping off a hangover. She kept calling as the day went on and became worried when she could not get hold of Brian. She phoned Randy who went to check Brian’s apartment.

When Randy arrived, he thought Brian’s apartment looked normal. His car was there and the bed was made. But there was no sign of Brian. Randy contacted police to file a missing person report.

Police began investigating straight away. They viewed CCTV from the bar. Brian was seen entering the bar with Clint and Meredith at around 1.15am. He was also seen alone outside the bar at around 1.55am, chatting with two women. He appeared to chat, say goodbye and move as if he was heading back into the bar. The bar closed shortly after this footage and Brian was NOT seen on CCTV again – there was no sign that he left the bar for a final time.

(Photos courtesy MEL Magazine, via Columbus Division of Police)
CCTV of Brian

There was one exit that was not covered by CCTV. There was much construction going on in the area at the time and one exit lead to a service door. This area was checked and there was no sign that Brian had been there.

Police also viewed footage from other nearby bars in the hope of tracking Brian’s movements, but he was not seen on any other footage.

Dumpsters were searched. Police also checked the sewer system for any sign of Brian. Nothing ever turned up.

As days turned to months, police asked those closest to Brian to take polygraph tests. Brian’s father and his brother Derek both reportedly passed their exams. As did Meredith Reed. Clint Florence refused to take one. “I didn’t know Clint very well, but I always thought something was off with him,” says Derek. “The way he talked about my brother after he went missing — kind of in a negative way. I wouldn’t expect that from someone whose friend vanished.

Randy set up a website – . Tips came into the website.

According to this article, someone called Jesus claimed he knew what happened, that Brian was battered unconscious by two black men after a clash at the Ugly Tuna. “[Jesus said] ‘When Brian woke up, he had a big black penis in his mouth,’” Randy recalled in 2007. “[He said] they shot him in the head, burned his body and had sex with his ashes.” It was a hoax. Later, a woman thought she saw Brian in Atlanta; another was certain she had spotted him in Sweden. 

Alexis called Brian’s phone every night before she went to bed, in the hope that one day he would answer. Every night, it went straight to voicemail. But in September, six months after Brian disappeared, the phone rang. Nobody answered, but it still rang! She contacted police and they pinged the phone to a tower in Hilliard, a suburb fourteen miles northwest of central Columbus.  Nothing else ever came from this lead.

Randy never stopped looking for Brian. In September 2008, almost 2.5 years after Brian disappeared, a large storm hit Randy’s neighborhood, Baltimore. He stepped outside to try to clear some debris and was struck by a falling tree. His date of death is September 14, 2008. Brian’s brother Derek had now lost his entire family – his mother to cancer, his father to an accident and Brian to a disappearance.

The same young man seen with his mother in the photo above, in the same setting, with an older bespectacled man on his right this time
Brian and Randy

The Columbus Dispatch hosted Randy’s obituary online. Friends and family members posted their tributes. Three days after his death, this tribute appeared on the website – “Dad, I love you, Brian,” from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Police investigated this tip and it was found to be a hoax. The message originated from a public computer in Franklin County, Ohio.

So, what happened to Brian?

April 1, 2020 will mark 14 years since Brian disappeared. There are a few theories as to what may have happened to him –

1 – Brian left to start a new life

Brian had been rocked by the death of his mother and her funeral was held only 25 days before he disappeared.

Renee, Brian and Randy Shaffer
Brian and his parents

Some people theorize that he was also questioning his study and career choices, and perhaps even his sexuality. Did he feel trapped in his life? Brian wrote on his myspace page – I really love music and this whole doctor thing is really just a job (only temporary) until I get my band together and put out a record. I want to own an island someday, or at least a beach so I can listen to Buffett all day and drink margaritas with my senorita.

Investigators looked into the possibility that Brian changed his clothes and left the Ugly Tuna undetected, moving on to start a new life. After extensive research, one of the investigators, Andre Edwards, said he could “say with 100-percent certainty” that Brian did not leave via the escalator. 

2 – Brian attempted to leave the bar intoxicated and became trapped or died somewhere in the area

There was much construction going on in the area around the Ugly Tuna when Brian disappeared. Did he leave via a service door and become injured in a construction zone? Police don’t seem to think this is a likely possibility. They have reviewed all footage and conducted thorough checks of the area. Did he somehow slip through the cracks and his remains have been undetected for over a decade? Some people comment and say that perhaps developers or building owners are covering up his death after he slipped into an out-of-bounds area, for fear of a lawsuit.

3 – Brian left the Ugly Tuna and died after that

Brian’s wallet and cell phone have never been found, yet his bed was made the next day when his father went to check on him. This infers that he probably never reached his home after his night out. Did he come across someone and get in a drunken argument with them, resulting in his death? Some people have attempted to link Brian’s disappearance to the idea of the Smiley Face Killer. Many purported Smiley Face victims have fallen into bodies of water while intoxicated – did this happen to Brian and his body has just never been found?

Randy and other searchers spent hours scouring the Olentangy River for signs of Brian or his belongings and nothing was ever found.

4 – Clint Florence was involved in Brian’s disappearance

There are many online rumors about Clint’s role in Brian’s disappearance. He was one of the last people to see Brian. Clint was the only person to decline a polygraph test. He also lawyered up. There is speculation that Clint was a drug user – could this have been related to Brian’s disappearance? If Brian is alive somewhere, family and friends believe that Clint may know more about the disappearance – “If Brian did take off somewhere, if that is the case, we just always had a strong feeling that Clint would possibly know that,” Derek said.

Brian and Clint Florence
Brian and Clint

Brian’s Missing Persons poster

You can view Brian’s entry on the FBI VICAP Missing Person site here.

11 thoughts on “Brian Shaffer – where is he?

  1. Brians bed could have been made from the day before. He never got home from his night out with Clint. If Clint was a drug user, maybe Brian had some and had a bad effect. He could of used the staff door because he felt sick or unwell. He could have fallen and died because of the drink and drugs and because Clint gave him them, or meredith or both of them, they had to get rid of Brian’s body, they would be linked otherwise and supplying class A drugs. I think Clint went to find Brian, he found him passed out or at the bottom of the construction site dead. Clint put Brian in one of the big garbage bins and covered him up with bags etc. The bin men would have come early the next morning to empty it. Clint could not be implicated with drugs or dealing. Is thst why they met meredith? Had she got them some drugs? Is that why they met up with her. Seems funny she was on her own and they were bar hopping. Im sure she was not out on a girls night out. And im sure she would not be out on her own drinking.

  2. He is Dead Murdered by a single shot to the body I have names that were at the beach party he went to with his mate’s he was taken there by a red car I have a Ricky/Richard Eric, Jeremy, Ryan, Joshua, and 2 females one with blond hair & one with red hair his girlfriend and a friend the girls names are Cynthia & Beaky one of the men has a condition that he suffers from sweaty hands & he had a full lit cigarette stubbed out in his left eye Brian was so strung out on drink and drugs he was on his way of being OD with the amount he drank his girlfriend seen it all but she was so far out of it she just realized that this man shot Brian she and the others are to scared of this bully man that was jealous of Brian & his girlfriend The Killers Nickname is MOONMAN

  3. Has anyone considered looking for a happy face sprayed in the area of the bar or river? ( happy face murders) or if he didnt go down the escalator and out, was he able to go up on the roof, get hurt, beat up, put into an air handler or get stuck on the roof?? Did anyone look? Would explain why no one saw him go down!

    • I dont think the Happy Face murderer had anything to do with Brian disappearing. I still think his mate Clint knows a lot more about what happened that night. I dont think Brian was going to propose to Alexis, I think he liked to flirt and put it about. He had cheated already i believe , then he’s all over that girl in the bar. I think an altercation took place, I think he was killed by accident, then put in dumpster and hidden underneath the rubbish. The bin men would come early to empty the bins with it being a pub and also a weekend. He wasn’t reported missing until the Monday, so there’s plenty of time to go and make sure there is no evidence at the crime scene.

  4. The rumor that persisted around the area at the time that Brian was a gay man. He’d been using the Chica to please his family and especially the mother because she was dying and wished for him to have a family. The beard was getting tossed after the mother died. The girlfriend found the 2 two tickets to Miami and thought they were going to Miami, and he was asking her to get in engaged. In reality he told her to go get bent, that he was coming out as gay and this trip was for that purpose. The girlfriend got so mad and told the gay boyfriend another story. So, The love triangle was going at each others’ throats. Some say they gay boyfriend done him in others say the girlfriend did it.

    • Were did that info come from.? The tickets were bought by his mother for there Xmas present I believe. I dont think they were getting engaged, I think Alexis hoped this, but I dont think Brian had any intention. I think Brian could have been gay with Clint or bi sexual. I think Alexis knew this deep down.

  5. I’m assuming he used the service elevator, which had no cameras. Not sure why and not sure why he went back into the bar, does it really matter? For whatever reason he ended up in a back alley at closing time, lots of unsavoury characters around at the time, so probably a mugging gone bad or drug deal gone bad. It’s feasible he was trying to score drugs, went back into the bar, followed his contact down through the service elevator and was killed. His body dumped somewhere, then disposed of at a later date. I don’t think his mate, knows anything about the murder, other than that perhaps he was a drug user.

  6. Hearing things he had said, done and other major signs like visiting everyone he knew leading up to his disappearance it seems to me he committed suicide. I’ve known two people who have committed suicide except one survived. They both did the exact same thing leading up to the moment. The missing tuition check could have been used to pay someone to do it for him when he wouldn’t expect it coming because it’s a hard thing to do yourself (guessing). I don’t believe Clint had anything to do with killing him but I do believe Brian sold him on the fact of why he needed to pass on and Clint would be honoring his wish and at this point might think coming forward could get himself into legal trouble. People before suicide often seem happy and in good spirits like he seemed to be. The love you dad comment from Brian comment could be Clint or not but at the the end of the day personally I’m convinced he killed himself or paid someone to kill him so he didn’t have to do it himself. His behavior leading up to this is the same of people I know personally who committed suicide or tried to. The fact nobody has come forward is because there is nobody to come forward. It’s the only real answer IMO. How he did it is another thing but that’s most likely the answer. RIP

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