There are two cases (that I can presently think of) that involve really bizarre 911 calls that just add to the mystery of what happened to a missing person. This case is one of them, and the other is Brandon Swanson - yeah, kind of weird that they're both Brandons! This case occurred nine years ago in a very small town in Texas and there are very lengthy discussions about the theories of what happened to Brandon on Reddit and other platforms (if you choose to take that deep dive).
Would love to know what you think happened to Brandon Lawson - do you think he's alive, do you think he was murdered, do you think he succumbed to the elements (or an animal attack), or something else happened to him? Connect with me on social media or on my Patreon as I'd love to hear your thoughts on the case!
Transcribed Episode / S3 EP21: The Bizarre Disappearance of Brandon Lawson
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I watched a movie recently called Multiverse, just an “ok” movie, but anyways, the movie was about four people who open up a portal into a parallel world and it reminded me of this case. Just imagine if there was a separate universe, just like ours, but we couldn’t see it, and if you accidentally fell into that parallel world, you’d never be seen again?
This case is so bizarre, it doesn’t fit into a logical “missing persons” scenario, such as “this person went on a hike and they got lost so now they’re missing” or “this person met up with a John Doe and now they’re missing” …this case makes no sense, and only ends up leaving you with questions of “what the hell could’ve happened to this person?”
What’s also troubling is that the individual who went missing was on the phone with his relative, and was possibly just feet or yards away from them, just moments before he quite literally vanished.
Brandon Lawson was a 26 year old oil field worker in San Angelo Texas, and was a father to four children. For the past 10 years, he’d had a steady girlfriend, who was essentially his common law wife, Ladessa Lofton, who he lived with and whom he had three children. One of his children was from a prior relationship.
On August 8, 2013, the day before Brandon went missing, he’d been at his house in San Angelo when he got into an argument with Ladessa around 10:45pm. The argument was allegedly about drugs - Brandon hadn’t come home the night before and Ladessa believed he’d been on drugs at that time, so she told him to get out. Brandon had ongoing issues with drugs, but he’d been clean for about 6 months.
Upset about the fight and wanting to get out of the house, Brandon called his father around 11:30pm and told him he was going to come over. His father lived in Crowley Texas, which was about a 3 and a half hour drive from San Angelo. Brandon left his house at 11:54p, driving his Silver Ford F150 truck.
On the way to his father’s house, Brandon called his brother Kyle at around 12:30am. He told Kyle he’d run out of gas and had pulled over onto Route 277, near the city of Bronte which was about 30 miles north of San Angelo. Brandon then said something bizarre, he told Kyle that “three (expletives) are chasing me out of town” and later clarified to Kyle that they were “the Mexicans in the neighborhood.”
Not knowing what was going on and completely confused, Kyle asked him if he was tripping, if drugs were causing him to hallucinate, but Brandon told him that he wasn’t. Kyle then hung up the phone and called Ladessa to tell her about Brandon’s situation. He said that he was going to come by her house to borrow their gas can to take some gas to Brandon. Ladessa told him she’d leave the can on the porch because she was going to shower and go to bed.
Kyle told his girlfriend Audrey about the strange call with Brandon. They decided to drive over to Ladessa’s house, along with their 4 year old child, to pick up the gas can. Kyle and Brandon continued to call each other, but Brandon wouldn’t stay on the phone - he just kept hanging up after only a few sentences.
Kyle was short on money due to a check deposit not clearing that day, so he didn’t have enough money to fill the gas can, but he figured he'd just take the can to Brandon and drive him to a gas station so he could fill it up and bring it back to his truck.
At 12:50am, Brandon made a call to 911. The full and uncut version of the 911 call doesn’t seem to have been made public, and the versions out there seem to have been edited. I tried to locate several different versions of the call and none of them indicate the operator asking Brandon his name or his location. Let’s listen to a portion of the call:
Yes I'm in the middle of the field, if they could just bring some guys over. Right here going towards Abilene on Bronte side. My truck ran out of gas, there's one car here and guys chasing me into the woods. Please hurry!
I totally ran into them.
Ahh, you ran into him okay.
Just the first guy.
Do you need an ambulance?
Yeah no I need the cops.
Okay, is anybody hurt? Hello, hello?
Sounding out of breath, he told the dispatcher that he was “in the middle of a field and for them to bring some guys over. He appeared to explain his location, that he was “right here going toward Abilene on Bronte side” and said that his truck ran out of gas, but also made an odd statement that “there's one car here and guys chasing me into the woods” and to “Please hurry!”
He’d also told the dispatcher that he’d been shot, but when asked if he needed an ambulance, Brandon said no, that he needed the cops. There are some public opinions that three gunshots could be heard in the background of the call.
On the 911 call, it’s also speculated that Brandon is not alone and that if you listen closely you can possibly pick up other voices in the background.
About 5 minutes later a trucker, who was driving down Route 277, saw Brandon’s truck parked on the side of the road, sort of in a hazardous manner with its tail end hanging over the while line, so the trucker called 911.
The truck was located on U.S. 227, about three and a half miles south of Bronte, Texas, and close to a rest stop. The stretch of road where it was found is pretty desolate - it’s a two lane highway and is surrounded by open land and some trees to the west and east of the road.
Between 12:50am and 1:15am Brandon made several calls with his brother, Ladessa, his neighbor, and with 911, but his poor cell phone reception caused several of the calls to go straight to voicemail, and after 1:19am, all of the calls to his phone went straight to voicemail.
After receiving the call from the truck driver who spotted Brandon’s truck, 911 dispatched a sheriff’s deputy to the location. It was a little after 1am when Deputy Brandon Neal arrived at Brandon’s truck, but Brandon wasn’t there.
A few minutes later, Kyle and Audrey also pulled up to where Brandon’s truck was located. Kyle was on the phone with Brandon at the time, and Brandon told him “I can see you; I’m right here.” But neither Kyle nor Audrey could see Brandon - anywhere.
Brandon and the deputy looked over Brandon’s truck and there was no visible damage to it, and no indication he’d been in any type of accident. The truck was unlocked and there were no keys in the ignition or inside of the truck.
At this point, neither the deputy or Kyle were aware that Brandon had made a call to 911 asking for “cops” and telling the dispatcher to “please hurry.”
While talking with the deputy, Kyle got a call from Brandon, but Brandon’s phone was going in and out of service, so it was difficult to understand him. Brandon said he was “ten minutes up the road” and said he was bleeding. Kyle figured that Brandon must’ve tripped or fallen into a cactus. During the call, Kyle thought he heard Brandon say “I’m in the field.” The phone then went dead. Brandon never told him of an attack or anyone else that was present with him that night.
Kyle called Brandon again, who then sounded out of breath. Kyle knew that Brandon had an active arrest warrant out on him from 2 years prior. Brandon just learned about and was going to address it the following week, so Kyle assumed that maybe Brandon was hiding from the deputy because of the outstanding warrant, so Kyle didn’t mention to the deputy that he was on the call with Brandon. Had Kyle known that Brandon called 911, he would’ve never assumed that Brandon was hiding.
Just following that conversation, Audrey sent Brandon a text that said “a cop is at your truck” to warn him due to his warrant.
After talking to Deputy Neal, Kyle drove a short ways up the road and parked his car to wait for Brandon to come out of hiding. After about 30 to 45 minutes, Brandon didn’t show. Kyle and Audrey figured they’d leave the empty gas can in the truck bed, thinking that if Brandon returned, he’d at least have the can so he could get some gas. Kyle and Audrey then left to go and get their son some food.
With no sign of Brandon, Deputy Brandon Neal put Brandon’s emergency flashers on, locked the truck, and left the scene, arranging to have a tow truck come out the next morning. The deputy drove up and down the road to see if he could spot Brandon walking, but saw nothing.
At approximately 4:00 in the morning, Ladessa woke up and noticed multiple missed calls from Kyle, Brandon, and Brandon’s mom. She tried to call Brandon back but his phone rang continuously. She assumed he just didn’t have service. She eventually spoke with Kyle and he told her that he was at Brandon’s truck, but they hadn’t been able to find Brandon.
Kyle drove back out to the truck later that morning, around 7 a.m. With the check having cleared Kyle’s bank, he now had the money to fill the gas can, so he brought the filled can to put it in Brandon’s truck. He was shocked to find Brandon’s truck in the same spot it had been the night before and still no sign of his brother. Between 8:30am and 9am, the Sheriff’s department towed Brandon’s truck.
Kyle started to become concerned and now realized that Brandon may not be hiding and could be in trouble and Brandon was reported missing on August 9th, 2013.
An investigation began and when authorities asked Kyle and Audrey if they’d heard from Brandon, they did admit to them that Brandon had called them while the Deputy was at his truck telling them that he was just “ten minutes up the road and was bleeding.”
Law enforcement initially viewed Kyle as a suspect, believing that he’d either helped Brandon run away or that he was involved in some sort of foul play. Kyle agreed to take a polygraph twice, and passed both times.
The 911 call that Brandon had made was only reported as a “stranded motorist who ran out of gas,” but there was no mention of the phrase “I ran into them” or of Brandon stating that he’d been shot or was bleeding.
A search was conducted for Brandon and several hours were spent investigating the area around Brian’s truck. An aerial search was done several days later but nothing was found. Now granted if Brandon was dead during the aerial search, nothing would be seen as infrared is used which picks up heat reflected off of bodies.
On October 24, 2013, two months after Brandon’s disappearance, an extensive ground grid search was conducted by The Coke County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers.
Coke County Sheriff Wayne McCutchen, also approved a search using cadaver or human remains dogs. They searched an area extending northeast of where Brandon’s truck was located. One dog showed slight interest, but even in the extended area, there was no sign of Brandon– no remains, no clothing, no wallet, no cell phone, and no keys.
The Lawson family hired their own Private Investigator who also searched via helicopter, but found nothing of significance.
Ladessa was told by authorities that Brandon’s phone last pinged in a location 3 miles from where his truck was located following that search. For whatever reason, it’s alleged that that particular area has not been searched to this day.
The Observer Enterprise, a local newspaper that serves Coke County Texas, and is interestingly run by Mrs. McCutchen, the wife of Sheriff McCutchen, had put out several different statements in regards to Brandon’s disappearance.
One article stated that : "Law enforcement concludes that Brandon Lawson is not in Coke County.” I’m not sure how a newspaper can conclude that since Brandon has not been found - dead or alive.
Brandon’s family doesn’t believe his outstanding warrant was connected to his disappearance and they also don’t think he would’ve run from the police because of it. They also think it’s completely out of character for him to just leave without warning, especially since he had four children.
Another strange development in the investigation came when Ladessa was able to view the cell phone records obtained by police, the Tuesday following the day that Brandon was reported missing. The Verizon records were pulled by investigators and that’s when she first saw that the 911 call was made by Brandon. Prior to that time, neither Ladessa or any member of Brandon’s family knew or had been told that he’d called 911.
There’s been no calls made or activity on Brandon’s cell phone or on his bank accounts since the night he disappeared.
According to a San Angelo news article, Brandon had withdrawn from his 401K before his disappearance. This was confirmed by Ladessa in the article, although she’s not aware if he received the money or not. His last paycheck was direct deposited on the night he went missing and Brandon never withdrew that money.
To this day, no signs, no clothes, no phone, nothing, of Brandon Lawson has ever been found. Law enforcement unanimously reported that foul play was not a factor. He is classified as an involuntarily missing person, and it was confirmed that Brandon’s gas tank was in fact empty that night.
Brandon was 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighed about 230 pounds and had multiple tattoos on his arms, a scar on his chin and left knee and one of his ears pierced. He was a Caucasian male and had brown hair and blue eyes. At the time of his disappearance, Brandon was wearing a yellow shirt, camouflage-print shorts and white 2013 Air Max shoes.
Obviously Brandon didn’t just disappear into a parallel universe, but where did he go, what happened to him?
As of 2010, Coke County was listed as having a population of around 3300. That’s in the county - not just one city within the county - so we’re talking about a small town, and small towns have limited resources, particularly when it comes to crimes.
Since his disappearance there have been many conspiracy theories about what happened to Brandon. Some say he was abducted by a drug cartel, or that he was killed by someone in law enforcement and they covered it up.
Many people believe that the 911 call points to foul play, as possible other voices could be heard during the call, as well as gunshots, but Kyle says the “gunshots” noise we hear is actually the sound of cars driving on the bridge over the Colorado River. Others hear the 911 call as a sign of drug-induced mania and believe Brandon had gotten lost and succumbed to the elements.
The terrain in the area where Brandon disappeared is extremely rough. It’s known to be inhabited by wild hogs and rattlesnakes. He was right next to the Colorado River which was experiencing severe droughts at that time. The river was said to be knee-deep at its highest.
Although Kyle Lawson later claimed that his brother had taken methamphetamines shortly before his disappearance, he denied that his brother was hallucinating from drugs.
There’s no way to know what happened to Brandon Lawson, until he’s found dead…or alive. But we hope that one day evidence of Brandon is found, so that his family can have some type of resolution in this case. If you have any information about Brendan Lawson, please contact the Coke County Sheriff's Office.
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Youtube: Brandon Lawson 911 Call with text overlays (Margin Walker)