Born on February 25, 1979, Brian Shaffer was a medical student at Ohio State University. In 2006, three years into his studies, he went missing, no trace of him ever being found since.
The complete lack of motive for foul play, his apparent mental wellness, and the bizarre circumstances surrounding his disappearance make his case one of the most perplexing mysteries in recent history.
A Spring Break Celebration at the Ugly Tuna Saloona Goes Awry
On the night of April 1, 2006, Brian Shaffer and his friends Clint Florence and Meredith Reed, also students at OSU, went to a Columbus, Ohio bar called The Ugly Tuna Saloona to celebrate the dawn of spring break.
At some point during the night, Brian was separated from his friends, who, records show, attempted to contact him multiple times after losing sight of him.
When he failed to return home that night, his father Randy Shaffer contacted police. The situation became even more dire when Brian did not show up to meet his girlfriend Alexis Waggoner the next day, despite the two having made plans to see each other.
Standing up his girlfriend—with whom he reportedly had a solid relationship—was not at all in his character.
The Ugly Tuna Saloona’s CCTV Footage Shows Brian Shaffer Entering but Not Leaving
The strangest aspect of the Brian Shaffer case is undoubtedly the fact that CCTV footage of the Ugly Tuna Saloona’s sole public entrance/exit shows Brian entering the bar but not leaving.
This has led some sleuths to believe that Brian was met with foul play inside the bar, and his body never left the premises. However, police searched the property thoroughly, and no trace of him was found.
The Ugly Tuna Saloona had a second exit not generally accessible to the public. This exit led to a construction site that would have been difficult to maneuver sober during the day, let alone intoxicated in the dark. Still, while not plausible, it is possible that Brian left the bar via this exit.
It has also been suggested that Brian Shaffer left the Ugly Tuna Saloona amongst a large group of people and was therefore not detectable in the blurry security camera footage.
Some even insist that he left the bar in disguise, though there is no evidence to support this claim.
Theories as to What Happened to Brian Shaffer Following His Departure from the Ugly Tuna Saloona
In almost any missing persons case, the most obvious theory is that foul play was involved.
In the case of Brian Shaffer, however, this seems unlikely, as he was reportedly well-liked; police interviewed hundreds of people in connection with the case and were unable to pin down a single one who wished harm upon him.
Of course, he could have met someone in the Ugly Tuna Saloona who would later attack him. After leaving the bar, it is also possible that he was the victim of a mugger. However, this would have most likely resulted in the discovery of his body.
The notion that Brian intentionally disappeared is equally ludicrous, as he had no history of mental illness, and he had never expressed any desire to escape his present circumstances, which were objectively quite good.
He had strong bonds with his family, friends, and girlfriend, and he was progressing smoothly through medical school.
The Accidental Drowning Theory
Outside the Ugly Tuna Saloona are several bodies of water, including the large Olentangy River.
Because Brian’s disappearance coincided with a period of heavy rainfall and flooding, some believe that he left the bar intoxicated and fell into one of the bodies of water, most likely the river, after which he drowned.
While the theory cannot be ruled out entirely, there is not much evidence to support it. Despite authorities performing searches of the waters nearby the bar, his remains have never been found.
This theory was partly brought into prominence by a psychic who asserted to Brian’s father Randy that Brian’s body was resting in water near a bridge.
Desperate to find his son, he and a search party, to no avail, spent countless hours wading in the Olentangy River on the lookout for his son’s remains.
Clint Florence, Unfairly Accused of Having Something to Do With Brian’s Disappearance?
Unsolved murders and disappearances that haunt me:https://t.co/GhLL10vgQf— 👍🏿 (@CrimexNoir) September 11, 2022
Clint Florence, one of the people with whom Brian went to the Ugly Tuna Saloona, has been accused of having something to do with his friend’s disappearance.
These accusations stem from the fact that, of anyone connected to Brian Shaffer, Clint is the only one to have refused to take a polygraph test. Aside from this tidbit, however, there is no evidence to suggest that he may have been involved in the disappearance.
Many have pointed out that Florence was justified in not wanting to take the unreliable polygraph test.
Also, in taking the test, he may have had to reveal to police that he and Brian had used drugs that night, something that could have gotten Brian expelled from medical school if he had eventually returned.
Overall, there was simply not enough evidence for police to even list Florence as a suspect in the case.
The Brian Shaffer case is unique in that nearly any theory is as plausible as the next. For the sake of those who loved him, one can only hope that a solution is one day proven.
If you have information regarding the disappearance of Brian Shaffer, please call (614) 461-8477, or visit StopCrime.org to submit a tip online.