The name Brandon Swanson probably means nothing to you. However, his mysterious disappearance one night in May 2008 once caused a stir in the state of Minnesota. On May 14, 2008, it was 2 a.m. when Brian Swanson received a call from his son. Brandon, 19, says he slipped into a ditch with his pickup on his way home from a student party in Canby, on the University of Minnesota campus. He claims to be near Lynd, about ten kilometers south of the family home, located in Marshall. Without waiting, his parents go looking for him. Once there, the two cars flash each other’s headlights to signal their presence. “Can’t you see me?” Brandon asks. “There was nothing. Absolutely nothing,” his father would later recount.
Frustrated, the young student decides to abandon his vehicle and join Lynd on foot. He stays on the phone with his father on the way, but after 47 minutes of calling, around 2:30 a.m., the conversation takes a tragic turn. “Oh shit !” Brandon exclaims before locking himself in silence. This is the last time Brian Swanson will hear his son’s voice.
“We know people don’t go up in smoke, but it really looks like he did”
After scouring the surrounding roads in search of Brandon, Brian and Annette Swanson report him missing at 6:30 a.m. Lynd police do not immediately take their concern seriously, saying it is not uncommon for a student of this age to come home late after a night out. Nevertheless, the research ends up being organized. Lynd’s surroundings are combed through, but one element disturbs the investigation. Brandon’s mobile phone trace indicates that the teenager was not in Lynd at all the night before, but in the vicinity of Taunton on State Road 68 from Canby to Marshall. With this information, it only takes investigators a few hours to find Brandon’s Chevrolet Lumina on the side of the road. “The inclination is quite strong, nothing too bad but enough so that the wheels no longer touch the ground”, describes then the sheriff of the county of Lincoln, Jack Vizecky. The teenager has disappeared.
Still using telephone beaconing, Lincoln County police estimate that at the time of his disappearance, Brandon was within five miles of a base station located near Minneota, another city bordering Route 68. Large-scale excavations are then organized. After detection dogs intervene, divers return to the depths of the Yellow Medicine River in case Brandon has drowned. In vain. “We know that people don’t go up in smoke, but it really looks like that’s what he did,” said Annette Swanson, the mother of the deceased.
The never-studied criminal trail
Fifteen years later, the young Brandon Swanson remains untraceable. The criminal lead was never investigated, although the Lincoln County Sheriff never dismissed it. “Someone could be in the shadows and could attack him like this, speculate Jack Vizecky in 2010 in the columns of CNN. I can’t say that there was no one else there -low, but I can’t find any evidence that this was the case.”
For Brandon’s parents, it is impossible that he drowned. Bryan Swanson certifies that his son was very alert on the phone, even though he had had a few drinks during the evening. He does not explain, however, why Brandon thought he was near Lynd when he was 30 kilometers further north. A mystery that may never find its solution.
Brandon Swanson disappeared after slipping in a car ditch. © Pexels