“A guy walks into a bar.” It’s the start of so many jokes.
Presumably, the guy eventually walks back out of the bar, but that’s where this case gets confusing. Security footage shows a young man entering the Ugly Tuna Saloona in Columbus, Ohio, one night, but not leaving. He hasn’t been seen since.
Brian Randall Shaffer went out drinking with friends after a long week of studying for exams.
To celebrate the start of spring break, he had dinner with his father on March 31, 2006. Brian was a medical student at Ohio State University.
He joined William “Clint” Florence at the Ugly Tuna Saloona. Later, they moved on to other bars and met up with a woman named Meredith Reed after midnight.
Reed gave them a ride back to the Ugly Tuna, where Brian was seen on security footage saying goodbye to a few women. He reentered the bar, but was not seen leaving when it closed at 2 a.m. Florence says he assumed Brian had gone home without telling him.
Florence is the one person who saw Brian that night who refuses to take a lie detector test, but he claims he did not hurt him.
Some believe that he was killed by the Smiley Face Murderer(s) or that he changed clothes and put on a hat in the bar so as not to be recognized. Investigators think it also may have been possible that the pivoting camera simply did not catch him leave.
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If Brian did disguise himself and exit the bar, he may have left his old life behind out of grief. His mother had recently passed away.
Brian’s father was tragically killed by a falling tree branch in 2008. He was committed to finding his son and lobbied for legislation to help the families of missing persons.
Brian’s case remains open. In 2014, police reported that they were still receiving tips concerning his whereabouts, but that none had proved helpful.