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Monday, May 14, 2018

The Monday Mystery: Brandon Lawson


Hello and welcome back to another Monday Mystery! Today we're talking about the case of Brandon Lawson, who disappeared in August of 2013. I first heard about this case when I was researching for my post about Brandon Swanson. The details of both cases are creepily similar and they also share the same name, which results in a lot of confusion online. As soon as I started to read about the case, I knew it had to be one I covered here on my blog but there is just so much information out there, I didn't even know where, to begin with my research, but I finally did it and it may have taken DAYS, but - here we go!

Brandon Lawson was born on the 18th of November 1986 and was an oil field worker and the father of four children, three girls and one boy, one of which was actually from a previous relationship. He was living in San Angelo, Texas with his girlfriend of over 10 years, Ladessa Lofton and their children, after they had moved from Fort Worth, Texas, only one year prior. The pair met in high school; when Brandon was only sixteen and Ladessa, fifteen and it was said that they quickly become inseparable, not only were they dating, but they were also the best of friends too. Over the years, they've had some rough patches, but always worked through it together. Brandon was described by his loved ones as being a hard-working man, who adored his children and Ladessa. 



On the 8th of August 2013, Brandon and Ladessa got into a huge argument, which was said to be "just a normal argument that all couples have." Their son had been ill for a few days with a double ear infection, and Brandon was also kind of stressed about starting a new job, so the tensions in the household were running pretty high. At 11:54pm, Brandon decided that enough was enough and he made the choice to leave their home, to cool off. He called his dad and said that he wanted to spend the night at his house, which is located in Crowley, Texas, an almost four-hour drive away. His dad, Bradley tried to convince him to stay put and to just drive around for a little bit and then go back home, but he was pretty insistent that he just wanted to stay elsewhere for the night. The easiest way of getting there would be to travel on Highway 67, but instead, he travels via Highway 277, which is a much more rural route.

Shortly after he had left, Ladessa called Brandon to make sure they were okay and she said that he should just drive around for a little while, to clear his head and then come back home. She went on to say that if he didn't want to come home that night, he should just drive over to his brother, Kyle's house, which was only a short walk away from the family home.



Brandon had made it a short distance and was around 4 and a half miles south of Bronte, Texas when he ran out of gas and subsequently became stranded. At around 12:38am, Brandon calls his brother, Kyle and explains that he has run out of gas and needs him to come and bring him some. Kyle obviously agreed and then Kyle calls Ladessa and states that himself and his girlfriend, Audrey would be stopping by to pick up a gas can for Brandon.

Ladessa explained that she'd leave them out on the porch because she was just going to have a shower and go to bed. This is also around the time that she realises that Brandon had with him the only working charger in the house, so she has no choice but to leave her phone in her car to charge overnight. Brandon then tries to call her at 12:34am, 12:36am and 12:48am, but as she didn't have her phone with her, these calls went unanswered and he didn't leave any messages.

Kyle didn't have enough money in his bank account to just go and fill up the gas can himself, so the plan was to go and pick Brandon up, take him to the gas station, fill up the can and then return back to his truck so he could fill up his truck himself, but for some reason, it just didn't go to plan...



At around 12:54am, only sixteen minutes after he placed his last call to Kyle and six minutes since his last call to Ladessa, Brandon dials 911 and the recording of this call was actually released to the public by Ladessa. It's very difficult to understand what he's saying and you'll find tons and tons of videos and threads online of people trying to decipher exactly what he said.

To me, he sounds very panicked and the conversation sounds like it went as followed: 


Operator: 911 Emergency...
Brandon: Yes, I'm in the middle of the field. A state trooper just threw some guys over. They're out here going towards Abilene on Bronte side. My truck ran out of gas. There's one car here. A guy chased us...into the woods. Please hurry.
Operator: Okay, now, run that by me one m...
Brandon: [Talking over the operator] And we're not talking to 'em. I accidentally ran into 'em.
Operator: Ohh, you ran into 'em? Okay.
Brandon: Just the first guy.
Operator: Do you need an Ambulance?
Brandon: Yea...No, I need the cops.
Operator: Okay...Is anybody hurt?
......PAUSE.....
Brandon: *whispers* Crap.
Operator: Hello?.... Hello?...Hello?

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've listened to the phone call and honestly, I'm still not 100% confident what he said. I think the phone call is extremely muffled and as I'm not from Texas myself, it's kind of hard to tell exactly what he's saying. Click here to listen to the phone call yourself! A lot of people seem to believe that Brandon wasn't alone and honestly, I have to agree. By the way, the conversation went, it definitely sounds like somebody else was there with him. For example, "A guy chased US" Not me...us. Interesting. 

It's also interesting how the phone call doesn't just end abruptly, it keeps going but he's no longer there. Like he suddenly had to run away for some reason... Also, at one point of the call, it definitely sounds like you can hear gunshots??? Crazy. 



A short time after Brandon's 911 call, the police department received another call from a motorist that had been travelling down the same road and they explained that there was a vehicle parked haphazardly on the side of the Highway and as it could potentially be dangerous to other drivers, a deputy was dispatched to go and check out the truck.

At 1:10am, Kyle, his girlfriend, Audrey and Coke County Sheriff’s Deputy Neal all arrive at the scene, at the same time. Brandon's truck was unlocked, with no keys, wallet or phone inside and there was not any visible sign of damage, but for some reason, there was just no sign of Brandon anywhere...

Just as they were talking to the deputy, Brandon calls Kyle once again. The reception of the phone call was pretty bad but they could hear that he said that he was bleeding and he was 10 minutes up the road, in a field, but the call abruptly ended. It's important to remember that at this point, neither Sheriff Neal or Brandon's family were aware of his 911 call so there was no reason to believe that anything had gone completely awry. Kyle makes sure not to mention Brandon to Neal because he thought that Brandon may have been hiding from the police as there was an outstanding warrant for Brandon, that he'd only found out about a few weeks prior, which was said to be issued in 2005, due to possession of a controlled substance and Brandon had been saving up money to hire a lawyer and sort the whole fiasco out, once and for all.


At 1:18am, Audrey sent Brandon a text message to let him know that a police officer was at his truck and this was probably to warn him due to his outstanding warrant. The deputy opens up the truck, turns on the hazard lights, locks the door and arranges for the truck to be towed at 8am. He drove up and down the road, shining his spotlight, looking for the driver, but when he doesn't find anyone, he decides to just leave.

Once the officer had left, Kyle and Audrey begin to search for Brandon but they couldn't see any sign of him. Brandon calls Audrey's phone but the reception is still very poor and the calls continued to drop, however, she, too, hears him say that he's bleeding...

Kyle tries to call Ladessa multiple times but as her phone was of course, in her car, these also went unanswered. They continue looking for Brandon and calling his phone, but at 3:30am his phone no longer rings and just goes straight to voicemail, which indicates that it had either ran out of battery or it had been switched off.



At around 4:30am, Ladessa wakes up and finds all the missed calls from Brandon and Kyle. She instantly starts to worry and quickly tries to call Brandon, but his phone just goes straight through to voicemail. Her next port of call was to ring Kyle, and he said that they still hadn't seen any sign of Brandon. At this point, they decide to leave the gas can at the back of his truck and go home, with the intent of returning again at sunrise. If Brandon had just been hiding from the cops, this would give him the chance to go back to his truck, get gas and leave.

7am arrives and Kyle returns back to Brandon's truck and as he now has funds available in his account, he goes and fills the can up with gas. Brandon, however, was still nowhere to be seen. This was extremely out of character for him and this was when it hit Kyle that something really bad must have happened to his brother, to make him act this way.

At this point, he knew that he had no other choice but to call the police. He told them the entire story, from the abandoned truck...to the visit from Deputy Neal and all the weird calls from Brandon stating he was bleeding, but strangely enough, the police weren't worried at all and wouldn't even class him as a missing person. 


They seemed to think that because of his outstanding warrant, he had just decided to run away to avoid facing up to responsibility and because of this, a proper search wasn't conducted right away and so the family had no choice but to perform their own search. They conducted a ground search, but it was very limited due to the fact that many of the nearby landowners, wouldn't let them on their property. The family also paid for an air search by themselves, but despite their efforts, nothing was found. 

On August the 16th, a whole week after Brandon had last been seen, the police conduct their first search. It was an aerial search, using infrared cameras. The intention of this was that if he was still alive, he'd be able to be spotted, but sadly, there was no sign of him. 

Thirteen days later, on August the 29th, police finally do a ground search of the area where Brandon's truck was found, abandoned, and it was said that they covered over 2,500 acres of land, but again nothing was found. The last official search was carried out on October the 24th, by TEXSAR, more than two months after Brandon had last been heard from. The search consisted of 6 cadaver dogs and the Texas Search and Rescue team. They hoped they could rule out the theory that he just got lost and died, but again, nothing was found. 



Something that is so strange to me though, is that even after Brandon had been reported as a missing person, the police still didn't even think to inform his family of his 911 call. In fact, they never actually tell them about the call and if it wasn't for Ladessa getting Brandon's phone records and discovering the information for herself, they'd probably have never found out. When she discussed the matter with the police, they agreed to give her the recording of the call, but they wouldn't do this for ANOTHER FOUR AND A HALF MONTHS. There's a lot of speculation that the recording that was given was actually an edited version and I mean, they clearly had time to edit it if they wanted to... 

Police conducted multiple searches, as did the family themselves and they even went on to hire a private investigator, from this, they discovered a rough location of his phone connection, which was actually 2-3 miles away from his truck. I'm not entirely sure if this entire area was ever searched, some sources say it was, others say it was not, but nothing was ever found.

As it currently stands, Brandon has never been found, nor has any of his belongings, such as his clothing or mobile phone. Police concluded that because they could not find any trace of a body, it points to the fact that Brandon may have fled town. The town's local paper is actually run by Sheriff McCutchen’s wife and they printed that he wasn't a missing person, he had just tried to escape from his outstanding warrant. This deeply distressed Brandon's family and the claims have been heavily disputed by them.

And that's it in terms of information, you're all up to speed! Ugh, this case has definitely been the most complex one so far, it's taken me SO DAMN LONG to research it all. I spent hours and hours listening to the phone call alone and it just breaks my heart. It's now been nearly five years since Brandon was last seen and it's a complete cold case, with no suspects or leads. Police still believe there was no foul play but the case remains unsolved, until new evidence comes to light...

It's now that time of the post where we discuss some theories. Please remember that all theories posted on this blog are all complete speculation, not fact and are not meant to harm any person or business...






He got himself caught up in an illegal operation?

When Sheriff Neal assessed Brandon's truck, he confirmed that it was completely out of gas so we know this to be fact. It's possible that while waiting for Kyle to bring him the gas, there were some cars nearby and he might have thought that he should ask them for help, but realising when it was too late that he had walked into something very bad. Some speculate it could have been a drugs deal or a human trafficking situation but by this time, he had seen too much and they had to silence him. I'm not sure how plausible this could be in the area he was in because I just don't know much about the area at all, but I think it is very plausible that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and was met with foul play. 



He ran away to start a new life?

This is one of the biggest theories circulating on the internet about Brandon. Some people believe that because he had become a dad at such a young age that it all got too much for him and he left to start over with another woman and she just came and picked him up. I really struggle to believe this because he seemed to adore his family and worked extremely hard to give them the life they deserved. It could be plausible but I don't believe he would just never have any contact with any of his friends or family ever again.



He faked his disappearance? 

Some people believe that the whole 911 call and Brandon's disappearance was completely faked so that everyone would presume he was dead and he could skip town to avoid being charged from the 2005 drug-related warrant. This could be extremely plausible, but his family are adamant that this is not the case at all and they were saving up for a lawyer to sort the warrant out. 


However, a lot of people that live locally definitely believe this line of enquiry and don't believe that he's missing at all, he was just avoiding jail time. One person online even said: "I knew this family in high school and they were white trash losers. Kyle sold drugs in school and brought them on campus all the time. My guess is he hid to avoid cops because of his warrant for drugs (shocker). He is staying in a trailer somewhere with his trashy friends. This isn't worth putting on the news."

Shortly after Brandon went missing, Ladessa moved back to Fort Worth and a lot of people believe that's where Brandon ended up and that's why she moved back there, to be with him. However, she hit back at these claims and said:  "I had to move back because I had no family down there, and then my parents and my in-laws, they wanted to help me with the kids and wanted me to move back down here. I didn't want to move because I've got Brandon missing down there, but I had to do what was the best for the children, to get more help, because it is hard raising a one-year-old and a two-year-old and a seven-year-old on my own, and they help me out. They help me out and they want to, through this, so I don't have to be alone through this."

Although this would be one of the best outcomes, I don't think it's plausible. His father said that he wasn't worried about the warrant at all and was going to sort it all shortly. Also, I think if Ladessa had known where he was the whole time, she wouldn't be still trying to raise awareness for him and she wouldn't have paid for all those search efforts.


He was killed by wild hogs?

This sounds like a little bit of a stretch, but it's another popular theory online so I thought I'd include it! Brandon's last known location was an area which was extremely rural and had a lot of wildlife roaming around, including wild hogs. Some people have speculated that maybe he was hurt badly by a hog and ended up succumbing to his injuries and they ate his body. After a quick Google search, I definitely think he could have been hurt and killed by a wild hog, they have been known to do this before. They can weigh up to more than 300 pounds and have very sharp tusks and can charge at 11mph. It's also worth remembering that when police used the cadaver dogs, they picked up the scent of wild hogs.


However, I just think if this had happened, at least some trace of Brandon would have been found, like, his phone or pieces of his clothing but they didn't find any trace of him whatsoever, so I don't think this theory is that plausible. 


It was a case of police brutality?

Ok, so this theory goes back to the 911 call...If he indeed was referring to "State Troopers" chasing someone in the woods, it could totally be plausible that this was simply just another case of police brutality and Brandon had witnessed something that he shouldn't have and as a result, was silenced. This might sound a little crazy but if you think about it, this sort of thing is happening more and more. Even in July of 2017, a cop in Texas was charged with the murder of a 15-year-old boy and there are tons of cases just like this, it almost makes you wonder how many others are there that just haven't been caught?


When you start reading more and more into this case, you do get the sense that some form of coverup is going on. From the very start, it's like they weren't concerned about trying to find him, yeah, this could be simply down to the fact it didn't look great because of his warrant, but maybe they were in no rush to find him because they knew he wouldn't be found. Who knows? It would explain a lot, like why the 911 call was edited and why the Sheriff's wife printed all those untrue claims about Brandon, to throw everyone off the scent. 

However, I think if this had have been the case, I'm not sure he'd have dialled 911 and called for more cops to show up but maybe he felt like he had no other option.

Another thing I find extremely odd is that when the family were conducting their own searches, the police would follow and watch them and keep warning them to stay off certain points of land that were private and I get the thought process, but isn't it a little weird how the police didn't want to search themselves but they had time to watch the Lawson family, to keep them in line? That feels so off to me.


He was murdered?

The fact that there isn't one piece of evidence or trace of Brandon, even after all this time, screams foul play to me. I don't believe it was someone he knew because there was no way of knowing that he'd be down that road that night due to the unforeseeable argument he would have with his girlfriend. He could have randomly stumbled across someone he knew that had a grudge but I think the likelihood of this is extremely minimal. 


Like I said earlier, it could just be a case of Brandon just being in the wrong place at the right time and he easily could have been taken away from the scene and that's why nothing has ever been found. He might have even decided to try and hitchhike a ride and was met with foul play and other people have speculated that maybe he found himself on some private land and was shot. There are so many possibilities.

Ladessa said: "I think something got him - I don't know what got him, I don't think a landowner would have got him...I think an animal got Brandon or, I don't know; did someone pick him up, did he hitchhike a ride, did they kill him? I don't know."


It was drug related?

Brandon at some point used to be a drug taker and he even had a warrant for a drug-related crime. However, at the time of his disappearance, it was said that he was completely clean from drugs and had even taken a drugs test for his new job and it came back completely clean. Some people speculate that maybe he relapsed and had taken drugs that night and that was why he and Ladessa had an argument...Paranoia started to kick in and he started having hallucinations and thought that someone was chasing him, some people even went further and said that maybe his truck didn't even run out of gas, it was all his paranoia. 


However, we know that his truck DID run out of gas, thanks to the Sheriff. This is one of the most popular theories and even before I had researched this case, I had always seen people talking about some guy called Brandon Lawson that was high on drugs and went missing, but honestly, I just don't believe there is any evidence that this happened at all, apart from the fact that he chose to travel via a much more rural route but this is a huge stretch, not everyone that takes a rural route is off their face on meth...




Personally, I think Brandon was failed from the very start. I've mentioned before in another post how I feel like missing person cases which have a male victim aren't treated as seriously as when they are female and this case has proved that statement yet again! Because he's male and has an outstanding warrant for his arrest, they completely dismissed that he could be missing, he's just avoiding being caught and I find that so, so wrong. You only have to listen to his 911 call to hear just how terrified he was, especially when he says "please hurry". 

In my opinion, the police should have acted so much faster. The initial time period when someone has gone missing is critical. If they're hurt and you just leave it, you have failed them, when you had the chance to save them. He said he was bleeding on August the 8th, but the police wouldn't do any searching until August the 16th. The chances of him surviving a whole week, once he's been hurt are very minimal, so why did they even bother with the infrared search? They waited an overall time of 21 days before performing a ground search, which is completely awful and they didn't bring out the cadaver dogs two months after his initial 911 call. I get that in small towns, the police resources are very limited but this investigation never even had a chance and it makes me so incredibly sad. 


The theory I believe the most is that he was met with foul play. The police are very adamant this not to be the case but to me, the police force seems incredibly sketchy. It's crazy to me how they have behaved and there is so much private land that has never been searched and they seem content with this. It's also very weird to me that they edited the 911 call, which they deny but so many sound engineers who have listened to the call, all think that it has been tampered with and I have to agree, the call as it is, doesn't make sense at all. If you'd like to know more about the theory of the call being edited, there's a great podcast who cover this, which you can listen to: here.

I feel like a lot of people still dismiss this case as him just running away or it being drug related but I find this so unfair. So many people speculate that his family were in the know the whole time but Brandon's brother, Kyle has now taken four lie detector tests and passed them all. I know lie detector tests aren't always accurate but I think if you were sitting on a lie this big, you'd probably fail. Also, why would the family PAY for searches if they knew where he was the whole time? Think about it.

I hope that one day, this case beats all odds and is finally solved because it's one of the saddest cases I've ever researched. He was a dad of four children and his long-term girlfriend just never saw him ever again, after a silly fight, I can't imagine the pain and torture she must have felt over the last five years. It really makes you think how short life is. This quote from Ladessa completely tore my heart into pieces: 


"His last words are, I think the hardest things I've ever had to deal with, because in a second, someone could just not be in your life, so everything that you say to someone, you don't want to ever have regrets and I have a lot."


For now, it doesn't seem like the police are doing a whole lot, but Ladessa is working a full-time job, raising three children and trying to keep the search for Brandon alive. What an incredible woman!

As always, thank you for reading! If you made it this far, congratulations, I know this one is pretty long but I didn't want to leave out a whole load of evidence to just make it shorter, y'know? If you think you have any information that would help this case, please contact TX Dept of Public Safety, MPC at 512-424-5074Case # M1308005, or your local police or the find Brandon Lawson website! 



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