The disappearance of Brian Shaffer is one of the most baffling missing person cases of all time. It's impossible to believe that a person could 'vanish into thin air' but that seems to be the case with Brian Shaffer. Shaffer was last seen at an Ohio bar in 2006, but no one saw him leave. It took over 48 hours for Shaffer's loved ones to realize that he was missing, and when police were finally contacted, they couldn't find a trace of the 27-year-old med student. Shaffer's apartment appeared untouched, and his car was found in the parking lot. There was no evidence of foul play, but there was also no activity on his cellphone or credit cards. Shaffer's disappearance stunned his family and confounded investigators.
Today, we don't know much more about Shaffer's disappearance than we did in 2006. Below we'll look at the facts that have been pieced together over the years, as well as a new age-progressed photo of Shaffer released in March 2021. Could Shaffer have been abducted, or is he in hiding somewhere after walking away from his life? Maybe someday Brian Shaffer's case will be solved, but for now, there are more questions than answers, and those answers may not be what anybody wants to hear.
Brian Shaffer Disappeared While Celebrating Spring Break At A Bar
Brian Shaffer was your average college student celebrating the start of spring break on the evening of March 31, 2006. Shaffer was in his second year of med school at Ohio State University and had met up with some friends at a local college bar, the Ugly Tuna Saloona. Shaffer left the bar with his friend Clint Florence after taking a few shots but returned with Florence and their friend Meredith Reed around 1:15 am on April 1. Florence and Reed eventually got separated from Shaffer at the bar, and that's the last they ever saw of their friend. They looked for him after last call, but when Shaffer was nowhere to be found, they assumed he had walked back to his nearby apartment. It would take days before anyone even realized Shaffer was missing.
Security Footage Shows Shaffer Entering The Bar, But Not LeavingPhoto: Investigation Discovery
In their search for Shaffer, police reviewed security footage at the Ugly Tuna Saloona. The security cameras outside the bar included both a manual camera and one that panned the entire area, making it almost impossible for someone to slip in or out of the bar undetected. CCTV recorded Shaffer, Reed, and Florence coming up the escalator to the bar's main entrance around 1:15 am on April 1. Shaffer was later seen on camera about 40 minutes later around 1:55 am talking to two college-age women at the main entrance of the bar. However, once Shaffer stepped back into the bar, there was no security footage of him leaving at the end of the night. Investigators were able to identify every patron leaving the bar in the early hours of April 1, including Reed and Florence, but there was no sign of Shaffer. It was as if Brian Shaffer had completely vanished after stepping back inside the Ugly Tuna, just minutes before closing time.
Authorities Ruled Out The Theory Shaffer Might Have Disguised Himself And Left The Bar
When police were unable to identify Shaffer among the patrons leaving the Ugly Tuna on April 1, they began coming up with alternate theories as to how he seemingly disappeared. One early theory was that Shaffer could have changed clothes or put on a baseball cap, then snuck out of the bar with another group of patrons before closing time. While it's not an unreasonable theory, it doesn't account for the fact that authorities were able to identify every other patron leaving the bar. It's also worth noting that Brian Shaffer was 6'2", 165 pounds, and had a distinctive Pearl Jam tattoo on his left bicep, making him hard to miss on even the grainiest surveillance footage. It seems that the only way Shaffer could have left through the front entrance was if he somehow managed to bypass both the manual and panning cameras outside the Ugly Tuna.
There Was Another Exit From The Bar, But It Wasn’t Likely Shaffer Took It
Although the Ugly Tuna had only one official entrance for patrons, there was a back exit that Shaffer could have potentially left through undetected. However, that theory also hit a snag in the police investigation. The rear exit of the Ugly Tuna led to an extensive construction site, which police speculated could have been confusing for Shaffer to navigate if he were intoxicated. Reed and Florence reported that Shaffer drank extensively throughout the evening, leading police to further discount the rear exit theory. A possible but even less likely alternative was that Shaffer had jumped from the Ugly Tuna's balcony, which would have been nearly impossible for an intoxicated person. Investigators were left with an impossible question: If Brian Shaffer didn't leave the bar through the front entrance or rear exit, how did he get out?