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Thread: Waiting for Brian

  1. #1
    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Default Waiting for Brian

    *Did not know where I should really post this story. This guy just completely dissapeared off the face of the earth and nobody really knows anything about it. I find these dissapearances fascinating..thousands of people just up vanish and are never heard from again every year. Who knows what happens to them all?*

    also sorry but this is a pretty long article but a really good read.

    Waiting for Brian
    Sunday, October 01, 2006
    Kristy Eckert

    One day, Alexis Waggoner was anticipating a vacation with her boyfriend; the next day, he was gone. Like the loved ones of the 1,000 other Ohio adults who are missing, Alexis is left to wait and wonder. Today, the OSU medical student marks six months without him.

    She hides her hope in daily calls to a cell phone that doesn’t ring. Only a momentary silence precedes the recorded voice of the man Alexis Waggoner loves.

    "Hi, this is Brian. I am unable to come to the phone right now. Leave me a message. I’ll get back to you quickly ..."

    Brian, she thinks to herself, this is not quickly.

    Brian Shaffer, a 27-year-old Ohio State University medical student, disappeared six months ago today.

    Since that Saturday in April, his 24-year-old girlfriend has found herself trapped — the prisoner of a bewildering unknown.

    "It is this feeling of absolute desperation, like every cell in your body is trying to figure out some way to scream out," Alexis says. "And, at the same time, it’s like a big, gigantic hole."

    Brian’s family and friends have their theories about his fate.

    Some believe he is dead. Others speculate that his mother’s death in March and the stress of medical school pushed him to run away.

    Alexis clings to a less-devastating, if unlikely, possibility: Perhaps he fell victim to stress-induced amnesia and wandered off. Somewhere, she imagines, he is confused but OK; someday, she prays, he will return.

    "When you have somebody who goes missing, what do you do?" she asks.

    Alexis handles the monthly bill for the Cingular wireless phone that vanished with Brian, and she calls.

    She calls to hear his voice.

    She calls to see whether the phone will ring.

    She calls because, after the "missing" posters become weatherbeaten, the TV cameras move on and the investigators run out of leads, this is still her life, her loss. And if she is calling, she has not abandoned hope.

    So Alexis calls a number that nobody answers.

    April : searching desperately

    At 4 a.m. on March 28, a studyweary Brian slid into bed at his campus-area apartment and wrapped his tired arms around his girlfriend.

    The month had been emotionally exhausting, largely because of the death of his mother. One of his closest confidants, Renee Shaffer lost her fight against cancer on March 6.

    Now, on the final Tuesday of the month, exams loomed.

    "Skip class tomorrow," Brian joked with Alexis. "Let’s go get married."

    Alexis suspected that he would officially ask for her hand when they were in Miami the next week, on a trip Brian arranged as a Christmas gift.

    Before the vacation, though, she had planned to drive to Toledo to see her family’s dog, Ellie, who was dying. After her test that Friday, she left Columbus with her brother Ryan, who is her roommate at a place near Brian’s, and an OSU student.

    At 6:21 p.m., before heading out with friends the same evening, Brian messaged Alexis on her Web page.

    I can’t wait to go to Miami Miami!!!! You going topless? A man can dream, can’t he . ...

    She called his cell about 10 p.m. Friday to tell him that Ellie was still alive.

    "I’m out with the guys," Brian said above bar noise. "It’s my chance to talk about you."

    He told her to enjoy her family and her couple of days at home.

    "And, Alexis," he said, "I love you."

    The next afternoon, when Brian’s phone transferred immediately to voice mail, Alexis assumed that he was sleeping off a late night.

    When the phone didn’t ring at midnight, she started to worry.

    At 2 a.m., with still no answer, she sat alone in her parents’ den and cried.

    "I was overwhelmed by this horrible feeling that something had happened," she recalled. "Then I was just like, ‘Calm down — you worry way too much.’ "

    When Brian didn’t pick up by Sunday, though, she began looking for him.

    A friend Brian was with told Alexis that he hadn’t spoken to him since leaving the Ugly Tuna Saloona, a campus-area bar where they had gone.

    Randy Shaffer, Brian’s father, said his son hadn’t shown up Saturday for a planned visit home to Baltimore, in Fairfield County.

    Area hospitals listed no unidentified patients. Brian wasn’t in jail. His bank accounts hadn’t been touched or his credit card used. Their plane tickets to Miami hadn’t been changed.

    His Honda Accord sat outside his apartment. Inside, his phone charger was plugged into an outlet by the couch, and his glasses rested on a nearby bookshelf.

    After police visited to take a report, Alexis sat in Brian’s living room and watched the door, her thoughts repeating themselves through the night.

    Please come in. Please come in. Please come in.

    The next morning, April 3, their flight left without them.

    Alexis then teamed with Brian’s family and hers. They canvassed the campus area, posted fliers, dug through Dumpsters.

    "It’s as if God reached down and grabbed him by the nape of the neck," said her father, Tom Waggoner.

    Along with Columbus police detectives, Alexis reviewed surveillance video that appears to show Brian walking into the Ugly Tuna Saloona at 1:55 a.m. April 1. The tape never shows him leaving.

    Baffled, she spent the next couple of weeks talking to news reporters, messaging Brian’s MySpace page and distributing buttons bearing his photo.

    Central Ohioans responded with notes of sympathy and encouragement.

    Grateful for the interest, Alexis started an online journal to provide updates.

    She talked to psychics. She met with a counselor. She prayed nightly.

    Hours turned into days. Days stretched into weeks.

    She visited Brian’s apartment daily, walking slowly around a corner each time, hoping to see him in bed. Then, one day, she lay on the mattress herself and sobbed.

    "There’s not one aspect of my life that’s not 100 percent changed," she said. "There’s no way I can get away from it."

    May : sharing her pain

    At 3 a.m. on May 11, a ringing phone startled Alexis awake.

    She rolled over to look at the number: Columbus police. Her hands shook as she answered the cell.

    Brian’s apartment had been burglarized. The police wanted her to make the short trip through the alley to detail what had been stolen.

    Isn’t it enough that Brian is missing? Alexis thought to herself. Now this?

    The one-bedroom apartment had been ransacked, and some electronic equipment was missing.

    Perhaps, with recent national news coverage of Brian’s disappearance, his place seemed an easy target.

    The previous weekend, Dateline NBC had aired a segment about the case, one in a string of prime-time news shows that would feature Alexis. Poised and articulate, she told America how much she loved her boyfriend.

    "He’s brilliant. He’s handsome," she said. "He’s sweet, loyal and caring."

    The exposure left the public hungry for more.

    Hundreds, if not thousands, of sympathizers from as far away as Australia discovered her MySpace page.

    Though I don’t know you or Brian, I have thought of you every day since I heard the story, wrote a woman from Boston named Melissa. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and Brian’s family . . . and, of course, with Brian. In your interview and in this blog, you show such courage and such love for Brian, I admire you.

    The outpouring overwhelmed Alexis, who expressed her gratitude in a May 9 entry.

    At the same time I’ve been living through this nightmare, each day I have been reminded that the world is a good place, and people really care for each other. So, thank you.

    Exposing such private thoughts would have seemed unfathomable to Alexis before this, but the steadfast support of strangers and her desire to keep Brian in the public consciousness compelled her to continue writing.

    She blogged about Brian having bought tickets for them to see Pearl Jam, his favorite band. Reluctant to see the concert without him, she auctioned the tickets on eBay to raise money for his reward fund.

    Someday, I promise I will see them, but I think I would be more likely to cry through the whole thing.

    June : still feeling the angst

    On the first day of June, Alexis shopped for a bridesmaid dress with a longtime friend in Toledo who will be married in December.

    The fun-filled afternoon ended tearfully, though, when she broke down in her mother’s arms.

    Alexis had figured she’d be planning her own wedding.

    "I wish there was something I could do to help her, and there’s nothing," Melanie Ludlow-Waggoner said of her daughter. "How can someone who loves someone so much deal with that? It’s just beyond my ability to understand."

    That night, near the end of a school break she spent hiding in Toledo, Alexis sat at her parents’ computer and typed her first blog entry in almost two weeks.

    Brian is still missing, my heart is still broken, and life is still forcing me to go on.

    Her struggle wouldn’t ease throughout June, which brought the start of her third year of medical school and the day that she and Brian should have celebrated one year together.

    The stress peaked when private investigators, hired by Brian’s father, questioned the intimacy of their relationship.

    How often did she and Brian have sex?

    Could he have wanted it more?

    Is there any possibility that he is gay?

    She knew they were only exploring all possibilities, but the nature of the queries forced her to re-examine a bond that months earlier gave her no doubts.

    With her mind still racing later that day, she came across an index card listing Brian’s passwords for online accounts. She had used the codes to check for any activity but hadn’t noticed the small, meticulously inked letters on the back of the card.

    At just the right moment, it seemed, she found the reassurance she needed in his e-mail password: AlexisLoveMarry.

    July : moving out , but not on

    Turning the corner to Brian’s apartment the morning of July 1, Alexis spotted the moving truck and melted down.

    Her father and a detective wrapped their arms around her and told her that she didn’t have to do this.

    Yes, she said, she did.

    To the reporters hovering outside, Alexis played down the significance of the day, assuring them that she had not given up, that the move simply meant Brian was unavailable to renew his lease.

    Later, in her blog, she suggested otherwise.

    I would by lying . . . to say that it wasn’t a sad, sad day that had the feeling of a funeral hanging over it for myself and Brian’s dad and brother. Now we don’t have any place to go to "be" with Brian.

    At their parents’ insistence, Alexis and her brother had recently moved, too. The family was worried about her safety and her emotional state, and even she realized that a change would do her good.

    It was terribly hard to look out my back door to Brian’s apartment.

    Yet Alexis still needed pieces of him nearby.

    She hung his wooden cross on her wall, dangled his buckeye necklace from her mirror and stacked his neatly folded shirts in her closet.

    Two days after the move, with Brian conspicuously absent, she and her classmates marked a milestone in their budding careers when they began making rounds at OSU Medical Center.

    Mentally and physically exhausting, the 12-hour shifts forced Alexis to keep her thoughts on her work, not her loss.

    The more time that passed without news about Brian, however, the more difficult her life became.

    "It’s just like being in limbo," she said.

    Despite the notable void, she was proving to herself that she could focus — that she was well-suited to medical work and, more important, was enjoying it.

    When word came on July 12 that she had passed her first medicalboard exam, she celebrated the occasion in her blog.

    It was the first time in months that I had a hard time not smiling for a while. It was just such a relief!

    August : re - entering the spotlight

    Some days, Alexis felt that time was mending, or at least numbing, her severed heart.

    With her busy hospital schedule, the weeks seemed to be passing more quickly. And her frequent nightmares about Brian had subsided.

    "I think it’s my body’s way of saying, ‘You need a break,’ " she said.

    Her brother sensed subtle changes, too.

    He hated seeing Alexis so upset, and worried that she would never be able to let go of Brian.

    "I was scared that it would color the rest of her life and impair her in some way," said Ryan, now a firstyear law student at OSU.

    By early August, though, he was sure she’d eventually rebound.

    Her latest blog entries underscored a growing excitement about her hospital work and, in time, yielded a soft plea for closure.

    It would just be nice to find out something and have an idea about what happened. Brian’s family especially deserves some peace after the last year.

    The case re-emerged in the spotlight Aug. 18, when police made public their desire to talk to a man seen in the Ugly Tuna surveillance video from the morning Brian went missing. Officers had noticed the man repeatedly riding the escalator.

    The video was a topic of conversation that weekend at a Crime Stoppers benefit co-hosted by Brian’s father.

    At Flannagan’s Dublin bar, Alexis sat with some of Brian’s relatives and friends and listened politely as they floated new, if far-fetched, theories about his fate.

    Among the discussion: Maybe a one-time girlfriend now living in Texas is hiding him.

    At home later, Alexis broke down. She understood the need for others to believe that Brian is alive, but the notion that he willingly left terrified her.

    "For me, it’s almost as scary as if something bad has happened," she said, then quickly clarified her point. "While that hurts like crazy, I love him, and I want him to be OK."

    Although she had conditioned herself to hope for the best and expect the worst, Alexis didn’t anticipate her degree of frustration after learning that the surveillance video produced no breaks in the case.

    The man had contacted police, explaining that he was merely looking for his ride home that night. He knew nothing about Brian.

    I must admit, I was disappointed, Alexis wrote in her blog. Another kick in the stomach.

    That same day, a simple question during a friendly conversation with a patient reinforced the uncertainty of her personal life.

    "Do you have a boyfriend?" the patient asked.

    Alexis paused.

    "I did. I still might. I don’t know."

    September : wondering , waiting

    The night before Ohio State played its rematch against Texas, much of Columbus seemed to be celebrating while Alexis fought memories of watching last year’s game with Brian.

    She sobbed while showering, crawled into bed and picked up her cell phone. Pressing the buttons her fingers know so well, she waited for the familiar voice mail.

    First, silence. And then ... a ring.

    Her heart pounded. Her hands trembled.

    What if he answers the phone? she wondered. What in the hell am I going to say?

    She dialed the number several more times; each time, it rang.

    She called Brian’s father and police, then curled back under the covers.

    She remembered the night that she’d let a psychic lead her and police on a fruitless expedition that left her devastated.

    It’s no big deal. It’s no big deal. It’s no big deal.

    She strove to be realistic, yet for the briefest of moments granted herself the luxury of imagining her arms around Brian.

    Her hope simmered for a couple of weeks — until Cingular told police that Brian’s phone had never actually rung, that it was an equipment glitch on the company’s end.

    "I knew that was going to happen," Alexis said. "It’s so frustrating. It tires me out."

    In tears, she added: "I just really miss him."

    October : Looking ahead

    The case of Brian Shaffer remains open; police have no suspects.

    Sgt. John Hurst, of the Columbus Police Division’s special-victims unit, says officers have asked the friend who was with Brian the night he disappeared to answer questions and take a polygraph.

    Through an attorney, Hurst says, the friend has declined to do both.

    To date, Alexis’ blog has been read more than 20,000 times.

    Hurst suspects the ongoing public interest has much to do with Alexis, whose devotion he admires.

    "She’s a bright young lady. I think she’s sincere. Her feelings toward Brian are true."

    Brian’s father, still struggling with his wife’s death, appreciates Alexis’ commitment to his son.

    "I feel for her greatly," Mr. Shaffer said. "She’s a very beautiful girl. She’s very intelligent. I know Brian really cared for her."

    Alexis’ parents ache for their daughter.

    The lack of closure haunts Mr. Waggoner, who believes someone killed Brian.

    "I don’t want her to have what’s been such a painful experience carry on," he said. "You can’t tiptoe around the gorilla in the room . ... You’ve got to live your life. And it’s going to be there."

    But Alexis can’t yet imagine opening her heart to another man.

    "Am I going to spend the next 10 years of my life waiting for him and being miserable?" she wonders.

    She wants a husband and children someday, but the thought of dating triggers so many questions. How will I find someone like — or even close to — Brian? Will another man want to date me, knowing I love someone else? How long do I wait? "It’s just a big change that I’m eventually going to have to face," she said. "I certainly don’t know the answers now." Until then, she practices tying suture knots with strings she attached to her purse. She dotes over patients. She talks to her counselor about bracing for the worst. And Alexis calls a number that nobody answers.

    Alexis and Brian:

    Don't slap me, cause I'm not in the mood!

  2. #2
    ANC is offline
    Silver Member ANC's Avatar
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    That is so terribly sad. I couldn't imagine going through something like that.
    Too many idiots, not enough villages.

  3. #3
    A*O is offline
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    Being Paula


    I think he's dead - she's clinging to thin air hoping he's got some kind of 'stress related amnesia'. Of it he IS still alive then he clearly doesn't want anything to do with her so either way she needs to let go. It must be a horrible situation, especially not knowing what happened, but sheer willpower isn't going to bring him back. She needs therapy or she'll turn into a modern Miss Havisham, waiting in vain for her man to come back and going crazy in the process.
    If all the women in this place were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised - Dorothy Parker

  4. #4
    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    There are so many cases like this and they are all eerie. A young man just disappeared in my neighbourhood four weeks ago -- no sign of foul play, nothing, just gone. He was popular, his family was rich, no bad habits like drugs or anything, and had everything to live for. One night he was on his way home from a club in his car and he never made it. The car hasn't turned up and neither has he. His family has hired a PR firm, and appears to be pulling out all the stops to find out where he is.

    Of course, he may not want to be found.

  5. #5
    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    "Area hospitals listed no unidentified patients. Brian wasn’t in jail. His bank accounts hadn’t been touched or his credit card used. Their plane tickets to Miami hadn’t been changed.

    His Honda Accord sat outside his apartment. Inside, his phone charger was plugged into an outlet by the couch, and his glasses rested on a nearby bookshelf."

    ^^ This part really makes me think he is dead. Car, glasses there and his bank account not having been touched since he vanished? He is most likely dead.

    "Sgt. John Hurst, of the Columbus Police Division’s special-victims unit, says officers have asked the friend who was with Brian the night he disappeared to answer questions and take a polygraph.

    Through an attorney, Hurst says, the friend has declined to do both. "

    ^^this part makes me very suspicious. Why would he not even agree to talk to the police (with his attorney present and all)? I can understand being afraid of the polygraph..but not even talking to the police with your attorney right there? And this was the guy he was with that night? VERY suspect IMO.

    At least this poor woman has a busy career to focus on right now. I also find cases like this horrifying yet fascinating at the same time.
    Don't slap me, cause I'm not in the mood!

  6. #6
    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    in the wild blue yonder


    Yes, he's dead and chances are the friend either did it or has guilty knowledge. I think the young guy here either took off in his Jag for parts unknown -- again, no cards or cash are missing or have been used -- but it's more likely he was killed. They dragged Burrard Inlet but his body didn't turn up, so it's anybody's guess where it is.
    Last edited by pacific breeze; October 1st, 2006 at 11:08 PM.

  7. #7
    Elite Member Algernon's Avatar
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    Omg, that is the saddest story. I want to find her didn't see it in the article. I feel so, so sad for her!

    ETA: Here we go:
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