The Missing: Brandon Swanson
Today, I bring you a case that has fascinated me since I first read about it. A young man fully vanishes while on the phone with his parents – how could that possibly ever happen? Well, it happened to Brandon Swanson in 2008 – and his parents have been searching for answers ever since. So, what fate befell Brandon Swanson while he was on the phone with his parents that night? Let’s explore.
Who Is Brandon?
Brandon Victor Swanson was born on January 30, 1989 to parents Annette and Brian Swanson. By all accounts, he led a normal, happy life. He graduated from Marshall High School in 2007, and enrolled in classes at Minnesota West Community and Technical College the following academic year.
Brandon has brown hair, blue eyes, and pierced ears. He stood at 5’6” and weighed around 120 lbs at the time of his disappearance. He was last seen wearing jeans, a white t-shirt, a blue Polo brand sweatshirt that was striped, and a black hoodie with a print on the back. He also disappeared with a white Minnesota Twins baseball cap, a silver necklace, and two stud earrings.
On May 14, 2008, Brandon was seen at two parties in Canby, the city in which his college resides. The parties were to celebrate the end of the semester at Minnesota West Community and Technical College. The students were celebrating the end of classes and were drinking. Brandon was seen drinking, but did not seem intoxicated to onlookers.
After leaving the party, Brandon was headed towards Marshall, Minnesota. He accidentally drove into a ditch along the way, and called his parents around 12:30 for assistance. He gave them his location and they agreed to pick him up. However, they were unable to find him – despite staying on the phone with Brandon, and Brandon staying in his car and flashing his headlights to attract attention. At a loss, Brandon told his parents that he would walk to a nearby town called Lynd. His parents agreed to meet him at a bar there.
Brandon and his parents stayed on the phone throughout his walk. About 45 minutes into the call, Brandon stopped short and shouted “oh shit!” and then went silent. The call did not drop and he did not hang up, and his parents stayed on the line to try and call out to Brandon. The call was only terminated when his parents hung up.
Brandon has not been seen or heard from since.
Brandon was reported missing in Lynd at 6:30 AM. At first, the disappearance was not taken seriously – that good old “the person has a right to go missing” mantra that police can stick to in some cases. When they finally did begin searching, the police did not find any sign of Brandon in or around Lynd. They then obtained his cell records and found something peculiar – Brandon’s cell phone was pinging off of towers around 25 miles away from Lynd, near Taunton, Minnesota. It is unknown how Brandon got so off-track, though he may have been more intoxicated than his friends were willing to admit.
Investigators then moved the search to Taunton, where Brandon’s car was found. There was nothing amiss with the car apart from being caught up on the lip of the ditch. The area around the car was comprised of grass and gravel, so Brandon’s tracks were not visible and could not be tracked. Further call records pinpointed the call to Brandon’s parents within a 5 mile radius of the cell tower. Searches of the area turned up nothing.
Bloodhounds were brought in and they traced a scent trail along roads towards an abandoned farm, and towards the Yellow Medicine River. Some reports say that the trail went into the river. With this new lead, searches recommenced on land, in the water, and aerially. Despite the efforts, nothing was ever found, and searches were eventually called off.
In 2010, ownership of the case was given to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. In an effort to pump some life into the case, they set up a tipline, which has yielded nearly a hundred viable tips since its inception. In 2015, official searches of the area resumed, focusing on the Yellow Medicine River and its branches.
And that’s the basics of what I could find in regards to the actual police search. Brandon’s parents are also still searching, leaving their porchlight on. But it’s been fifteen years with so little movement on the case, I have to imagine it’s frustrating.
Buckle up, folks. This case has a ton of theories, and we’ll go through them one by one like always.
The first theory is that Brandon fell into the nearby Yellow Medicine river. This theory is definitely plausible. In 2008, our phones weren’t nearly as sophisticated as they are now, so it makes sense that Brandon’s parents wouldn’t have heard water, or that the phone just cut out. This also explains the “oh shit” that Brandon shouted before it disconnected.
The second theory is that Brandon met a farmer who killed him for trespassing. This seems unlikely to me. Wouldn’t there have been some other noise on the line that his parents would have heard if this were the case? Wouldn’t Brandon have said something other than “oh shit”? It’s also possible that Brandon dropped his phone and wandered somewhere he shouldn’t be looking for further help, finding a murderer instead.
The third theory is that Brandon died from hypothermia that night, and his remains were hidden by whoever came upon them. The first part of this theory makes sense to me. The temperature was down in the 40s that night, and hypothermia can occur between 30 and 50 degrees. What doesn’t make sense to me is why someone wouldn’t call it in when he was found, unless they were trying to hide something. I suppose it is also possible that Brandon could have found some crevice to crawl into for the illusion of warmth and has not been found.
The fourth theory is that Brandon fell into a disused well or cistern that is so old it is not marked on any maps. This would explain the “oh shit!” and the silence that followed. It would also explain why no remains have been found as of the writing of this blog.
I think that the last theory is the most likely, just based on my own hunch. Beyond that, it seems likely that pieces of each theory may be true. By this I mean that Brandon could have fallen in the river and gotten hypothermia because he was wandering around wet in low temperatures. Then he was found and hidden by the sketchy farmer from the theories. Many things can be true at once.
If you or anyone you know has any information about Brandon’s disappearance, no matter how small, please reach out to the proper authorities. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 507-694-1664 in reference to case number 20086843. If you know something, do your part to help bring Brandon home.