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The Disappearance of Brandon Swanson

Hello, my loyal true crime readers! I’m excited to present a guest post by Debbie Buck. Debbie is the owner of the blog True Crime Diva where she has been writing on unsolved murders and missing persons cases since 2010. She is also the researcher and writer for the podcast Criminology. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Enjoy the guest post ~ Christine

On Tuesday, May 13, 2008, Brandon Swanson, 19, of Marshall, Minnesota visited with friends and had a few drinks in nearby Lynd. The teen completed his first year of college at Minnesota West Community and Technical College that day. Between 10:30 and 11:00 pm, Brandon left the celebration and drove to another friend’s house in Canby to say goodbye to a classmate. Brandon did not appear to be intoxicated, according to his friends at the Lynd party. Witnesses at the Canby party said he had an additional shot of whiskey, but left sometime after midnight to head back to Marshall.

Highway 68 is a direct route from Canby to Marshall with an approximate 30-minute driving time. Around 1:15 a.m. May 14th, Brandon got his car hung up in a ditch along a gravel road. He attempted to call his friends for help but nobody answered. Around 1:54 a.m. Brandon called his parents, Brian and Annette Swanson, and informed them about his situation and that he needed a ride. He said he was between Marshall and Lynd and gave his location. He also said he was not injured from the accident.

His parents drove to pick up their son. When they arrived at the location Brandon gave, they could not find him. Annette called him on his cell phone, and they both agreed to flash their lights to let each other know they were there. She could hear Brandon flashing the car lights and at one point, she kept saying, “We’re flashing our lights! We’re flashing our lights!” His response to her was, “Don’t you see me?” They never saw him. Frustrated, Brandon hung up on his mom, but Annette quickly called him back apologizing for getting frustrated herself. He told her he could see Lynd’s town lights, and he was going to walk towards town. Brandon said to meet him at a Lynd tavern parking lot.

While driving, Brian and Brandon talked via their cell phones. Brandon explained to Brian that he was going to cut through fields so it would be quicker. Along the way, he walked on gravel roads, saw two fence lines, and heard running water. The call lasted about 47 minutes when all of a sudden Brandon yelled, “Oh sh-!” and the call was disconnected. His father said it sounded like Brandon slipped and fell. Numerous attempts to reach Brandon’s phone were unsuccessful. The phone rang each time it was called until the next day when calls went straight to voicemail. Brandon has not had any communication with his parents since.

The Search for Brandon  

At 6:30 a.m., Brandon’s parents called police to report him missing. Police told them to wait a while because it wasn’t unheard of for young males to go off the grid for a bit. However, later that day cell phone records showed Brandon was near Porter, Minnesota, not Lynd, when he phoned his parents. Porter sits between Canby and Marshall along Highway 68. A search began and around 12:30 p.m., Brandon’s Chevrolet Lumina sedan was found about a mile and a half north of Taunton, right on the border between Lincoln, Yellow Medicine, and Lyon Counties. There was no physical damage to the vehicle or evidence of bodily injury.

Location of Brandon’s vehicle

Photo of Missing Person Brandon Swanson Car Location
Source: Google Maps

“It was off the side of a field approach, and the vehicle was hung up,” Lincoln County Sheriff Jack Vizecky told CNN. “It’s sort of a sharp incline, nothing major but enough that the car would get hung up so the wheels are too high off the ground to get any traction.” (Weed, 2010)

Over the months following Brandon’s disappearance, volunteers, emergency personnel and law enforcement utilized walkers, boats, horseback, and all-terrain vehicles to search areas of Lincoln, Lyon and Yellow Medicine Counties and bodies of water including Yellow Medicine River.

The authorities believed that Brandon fell into a body of water and drowned. However, search dogs followed his scent to the river’s edge, but continued walking on. This suggested that Brandon probably fell into the water, managed to get out, and continued walking. The temperature that night was around 39 degrees, so Brandon may have succumbed to hypothermia.

Search dogs picked up the scent of human remains a few times, specifically in an area north of Porter near Mud Creek, but no body has ever been found. Police do not have any evidence of foul play and believe Brandon’s remains are within the 122 square-mile search area.

On the 10-year anniversary of Brandon’s disappearance, Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Bill Flated told The Marshall Independent, “It’s a huge area. If you take that immediate area where the car was and then the time frame when he was talking on the phone with his parents, who knows what direction he went and how far he traveled?” (Kirk, 2018)

Brandon’s Law

Established by Brian and Annette Swanson and sponsored by House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) and Senator Dennis Frederickson (R-New Ulm), Brandon’s Law was signed by Minnesota’s Governor Tim Pawlenty on May 7, 2009. It took effect almost two months later on July 1st.  

The law will require law enforcement to take a missing persons report without delay after notification of someone missing under dangerous circumstances, no matter the missing person’s age; immediately conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if the person is missing, and whether the person is endangered; and promptly notify all other law enforcement agencies of the situation. It clarifies that the agency taking the report be the lead agency in the investigation (Brandon’s Law).

Photo of missing person Brandon Swanson
Source: Wikipedia

Anyone with information leading to the whereabouts of Brandon Swanson, please call Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department at (507) 694-1664.


Interested in missing persons cases? Check out the disappearance of Dail Dinwiddie and the vanishing of Doris Brown.

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Published inGuest PostsMissing Person Files



  1. Todd Todd

    Darn, what a terrible thing to happen to a young man… his parents probably haven’t had a decent night sleep since.. seems like a cut and dry accident but you never know.. hopefully someone stumbles upon his remains if has for sure passed! Prayers for his family

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Todd. I couldn’t agree more. It’s a tragic case. Here’s hoping Brandon’s family one day finds out what happened. I can’t imagine living with the not knowing. As always, thanks very much for reading!

  2. Kris Kris

    The part that doesn’t make sense to me is, why were all of the car doors wide open when the vehicle was located?

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Kris. Great question! This is definitely a mind-bending case.

  3. Aaron Aaron

    I have listened to hundreds of podcasts about missing persons cases,and this one gives me the chills for some reason or other…just a sad story with no ending..hopefully they will find his remains one day…

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Aaron. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. It’s a very unsettling case and I hope Brandon’s loved ones can someday get closure.

  4. Sheena Sheena

    I grew up in the area and remember seeing signs posted all over after his disappearance and the local sheriff spent years searching on his own for anything… the whole thing is so bizarre. If he had fallen into the river wouldn’t you think something would have surfaced eventually? Clothing or something? THere’s also a farm sight that won’t allow searching in the premises, why?? It also bugs me what he yelled “oh sh*t!” About….. and how far off he was from where he thought he was… so many unanswered questions… I always ask about him when returning home, this one really gets to me

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Sheena. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. Wow! Talk about this case hitting close to home for you. I couldn’t agree more that there are so many answered about this case. My heart goes out to Brandon’s loved ones. Here’ hoping that one day they can get some answers. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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