Disappearance of Brandon Swanson: How the 19-year-old got lost at the dark of night?

Brandon Swanson

Assume you have completed another year of college. For yet another summer you are free from school and one step closer to the real world forever. You meet fellow students to celebrate and finally start your journey home. Except you never return home.

This is what happened in May 2008 when 19-year-old Brandon Swanson was on his way home after celebrating with friends after the end of the spring semester.

Brandon Swanson’s Disappearance

Brandon Swanson
Image of Brandon Swanson distributed widely in the wake of his disappearance © MRU

On May 14, 2008, Brandon Swanson left for home at midnight shortly after the celebration had ended. It was around 2am when he called his parents on his cell phone, telling them that he had driven his Chevy Lumina off the road and into a ditch near the town of Lynd, Minnesota. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt and asked his parents to pick him up.

Annette and Brian Swanson go out into the night to find their son, continuing speaking to him on the phone to pinpoint his exact location. They flashed their headlights to signal Brandon when they arrived at the location he described, but Brandon did not notice the lights and responded by flashing his own after getting back into his car, which his parents also did not see.

It became clear that the two parties were not in the same location, and so Brandon said left his vehicle and told his parents that he was going to walk towards, what he thought was the lights of the town Lynd. He told his father to meet up with him at the parking lot of a local bar and wait for him there, still on the line with his son.

Brandon Swanson
Missing poster of Brandon Swanson © FBI

Around 2:30 am, roughly 47 minutes into the call, breaking their casual conversation, Brandon suddenly yelled “Oh shit!”. Thinking that Brandon must have dropped his phone, his parents started to yell his name in order for him to find the phone, but the connection was lost. They tried to call back, hoping that Brandon would see the light from the cell phone in the dark to locate it, but he never answered. Brandon has not been seen or heard from since.

The Search for Brandon Swanson

The next morning, the police were notified, and a delayed search for Brandon Swanson began, assisted by helicopters, volunteers, and dogs. The sheriffs’ office obtains Brandon’s cell phone records and it revealed that he had been calling from the vicinity of Taunton, 25 miles from Lynde. Searching the area they located Brandon’s car in a ditch off a gravel road along the Lincoln County line. Oddly, in an area where no lights of any kind were visible. In the area around the car, there were no tracks to tell which direction Brandon started walking in.

Brandon Swanson
Vicinity of Taunton, Minnesota, showing towns important to the search for Brandon Swanson in May 2008 and subsequently © Wikimedia Commons

A team of bloodhounds found a 3-mile trail that followed the field roads to an abandoned farm, then along the Yellow Medicine River to a point where it looked like the trail entered the stream, prompting many to believe that he stumbled into it and drowned. His father recalled Brandon mentioning passing fences and hearing water nearby, so boats were deployed in the search for his body in theory that he drowned.

Brandon Swanson
Search photo from the weekend of June 8, 2008 © “The Search for Brandon Swanson” blog

The dogs also picked up his scent on the other side of the river along a gravel path that led to the abandoned farm, though they did quickly lose it. Additionally, his body, clothes, or possessions were not found in the river. Also, Brandon manually had to hang up the call and Brandon’s phone could still receive calls, meaning that it was in working condition and most likely not submerged underwater.

Brandon Swanson
Searchers work an area just west of Taunton along Highway 68 and to the north, June 21-22, 2008. © “The Search for Brandon Swanson” blog

Because he didn’t seem to drown, what occurred then? Darrin E. Delzer, a volunteer firefighter who became involved in the investigation, has a plausible explanation. He discovered details that the media never reported after reviewing the Suspicious Activity Report (S.A.R). First and foremost, Brandon was legally blind in one of his eyes and required the use of spectacles. His spectacles, however, were left in his car.

Now, wouldn’t you take your spectacles with you if you were blind with one eye, walking on a dead night across unknown territory? It makes no logical sense unless he was drunk from the party. Even stranger, both his friends who last saw him at the party and his parents reported he appeared normal and not intoxicated.

Another piece of information included in the S.A.R report was that just before the call ended, Brandon reported to his father that he was crossing fields and fences and exclaimed “Not another fence” before saying the “Oh shit.” In this short amount of time, his Dad heard him climb the fence and then what sounded like him slipping on rocks.

Brandon Swanson
Brandon Swanson with his sister Jamine © Swanson family

Over the years, many extensive searches for Brandon Swanson were conducted, but neither he nor his cell phone were ever found. What do you think happened to him? Did he fall in the river and drown? Or did he intentionally disappear? Or he was abducted in the dark??

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