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
“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)
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).
Anyone with information leading to the whereabouts of Brandon Swanson, please call Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department at (507) 694-1664.
- Brandon Victor Swanson. (2008). [image] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57359642.
- Brandon’s Law.HF1242*/SF1146/CH38.
- Kirk, J. (2018). Swanson Case Still Unsolved. The Marshall Independent. [online] Available at: http://www.marshallindependent.com/news/local-news/2018/05/swanson-case-still-unsolved/.
- Weed, A. (2010). Teen drove into ditch, vanished as parents searched. CNN.com. [online] Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/01/18/grace.coldcase.swanson/index.html.