The night of March 31st 2006 was like any normal night in Columbus Ohio. It was the beginning of spring break and many were flocking to the local bars and campuses to start the partying season. The Ugly Tuna Saloona was a popular hang out for local college students and party goers. It was located in an upper story building in South Campus Gateway and was well known for its ‘ugly hour’ where drinks were only $1. They also had a $10 minimum on card purchases so it was extremely common for people to buy 10 drinks at a time to fill the minimum spend. This offer always drew in huge crowds and it was often to be crammed full of people very intoxicated drinking large amounts of cheap alcohol.
That night 27 year old Brian Shaffer went to The Ugly Tuna Saloona with a group of friends to celebrate spring break. He was a microbiology graduate and was continuing further studies at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. He had a serious girlfriend at the time a fellow medical student Alexis Waggoner. He was known to love tropical locations telling people his dream in life was to start a band and emulate Jimmy Buffet travelling to exotic locations to play music. Brian and Alexis had planned a holiday for Miami the following week and family and friends all thought he was going to pop the question and propose to Alexis starting the next chapter of their lives together. In the weeks before his mother sadly passed away and Brian was believed to be handling it well but understandably in grief.
At 9:00pm that night Brian met up with friend Clint Florence and the two went bar hopping around the local area. They would go into a bar and both do a shot of hard liquor then walk to the next bar to do it again. This went on for a few hours and roughly around midnight the two met up with a third friend who drove all of them back to The Ugly Tuna Saloona to continue drinking. Throughout the night Brian separated from his two friends. At the time it wasn’t seen as strange as it was quite common in a busy campus bar to run into people you know. The two friends tried looking for him and calling his phone but he wouldn’t answer his phone. They waited until 2am when the bar closed and waited out the front for Brian to exit. When the bar was empty and the last of the crowd left Brian still hadn’t emerged. The two believed he must’ve headed home early without telling them and they left to go home themselves. Brian Shaffer was never seen or heard from again.
After not answering any phone calls from family or friends and missing his flight the next Monday for his trip to Miami Brian Shaffer was reported missing to police. The search for Brian began at the same place he was last seen, at the The Ugly Tuna Saloona. Police reviewed security footage on the night of the disappearance and found many recordings of Brian at the bar. At 1:15am he was seen going up the escalators with his two friends towards the entrance. At 1:55am he was also seen outside the bar talking to two young women. The footage showed Brian saying goodbye and then walking back inside the bar. After this Brian was out of view of the camera and 5 minutes later when the bar closed and everyone started exiting the premises Brian was not seen leaving the premises on the footage.
There was a theory that the cameras could have missed him leaving the bar however police have since confirmed that they were 100% certain through extensive investigating that Brian did not leave via the main entrance and escalators in which he entered the building. There was another exit from the bar that wasn’t on camera however this exit was for staff only and at the time actually opened onto a construction site which would have been very difficult to travel through especially intoxicated. Police have stated it is very unlikely that he would have taken this route. As Ohio is filled with security cameras police went to other businesses on the same street that had views of the The Ugly Tuna however after watching several hours of surveillance no further footage of Brian leaving the premises or walking along the streets was found.
There were several theories as to what happened to Brian that night. Those close to him were asked by police to take lie detector tests as the suspicious circumstances led police to believe the disappearance could have been foul play. All the people that were tested passed however Florence who accompanied Brian on the night he disappeared has always refused to take the test. Brian’s father Randy had also consulted a psychic in the hopes of finding out what happened to his boy. The psychic told Randy that Brian was deceased and his body would be found in a body of water near a bridge pier. Both Randy and Brian’s brother Derek spent hours of their spare time searching the Olentagy River which flows through Columbus trying to find Brian’s body. After numerous hours spent searching no traces of Brian were ever discovered.
Following the death of his mother and his dreams to leave the field of medicine police believe it could have been possible that Brian changed clothes or snuck out of the bar that night to leave his old life behind. After his disappearance Brian’s girlfriend Alexis missed him dearly and would regularly call his phone almost every night so she could hear his voice on his messagebank. Usually the call went straight to voicemail indicating the phone was switched off but months after his disappearance one night in September the phone rang a total of 3 times before the voicemail message began leading her to believe the phone was in fact on. The ping of the phone call was traced to a town called Hillard some 23km away from Columbus rather close by. Although this led many to believe Brian was still alive and possibly trying to start his new life as a musician the phone provider stated that this incident could have been a computer glitch and could not confirm the phone was turned on. Police have never reported any evidence of Brian Shaffer to be found in Hillard.
In 2008, just 2 years after Brian’s disappearance his father Randy was out in his yard clearing debris from an extreme windstorm when he was fatally struck by a falling tree branch. It wasn’t until the next morning when neighbours had found his body that he was declared deceased. After his death an online obituary was made in memory of Randy where family and friends around the world could sign their name and a message over the internet. One of the messages left in the condolences read, “To Dad, Love Brian.” This led many to believe the theory Brian started his new life elsewhere however soon after police investigated the message they found it came from a public computer in Franklin County and was confirmed to be a hoax.
Since that night in 2006 Brian has never been seen or heard from again. Although it is believed by some that he has started a new life and is still alive to this day the fact that his father’s passing which was heavily publicised didn’t lead to any contact with the family leads many to believe he is no longer with us. Police have stated they have 3 theories into what has happened that night but as it is an on-going investigation have declined to share any details with the public. They still regularly receive tips regarding possible sighting of Brian to this day. If you have any information on the disappearance of Brian Shaffer please contact your local police or Crime Stoppers Hotline.