Brandon Swanson was a 19-year-old freshman at Minnesota West Community and Technical College; he studied wind turbines and lived with his parents while attending classes. Brandon was a native of Marshall, MN, he was a good student, he had close friends, and was also close with his family. May 13, 2008, the school year ended for Brandon and his classmates. Many of the young adults decided to celebrate that night at a friend's house in Canby, MN; there were alcoholic drinks, however, eyewitnesses attested Brandon did not seem visibly intoxicated at any time that night.
Sometime before midnight Brandon left the house party and planned to drive the 30 miles back to his parents’ house in Marshall. Just before 2 am, over two hours after he left the party, Brandon called his parents and explained his car was stuck in a ditch. He tried to illustrate for his parents where exactly he was and asked if they could pick him up. Brandon's parents, Brian, and Annette, both got out of bed and into their truck and began to look for their son. They arrived at the location Brandon gave them a short time later, but they didn't see his car anywhere in the area. Brandon was still on the phone with his father Brian when they arrived and told his father he would flash his headlights so they could spot him easier.
Unfortunately, this also did not work, and Brandon's parents were unsuccessful in their search. Brandon explained to his father he thought he could see flashing lights; he believed they were coming from the small town of Lynd, just seven miles from his parents’ home in Marshall.
Brandon relayed he was going to walk towards the lights he saw, and Brian told his son to meet him in a tavern parking lot in Lynd.
Brian and Brandon maintained their conversation as Brandon walked to the designated meeting place. Brian asked Brandon to describe his surroundings, and Brandon went on to say he had passed several gravel roads and seen multiple fences, he also said he could hear water in the distance. The phone call was abruptly ended as Brian heard Brandon yell, "Oh shit!", and listened as the line went dead.
After several minutes Brian hung up the phone and called Brandon back desperately.
This was to no avail, and Brandon's parents began to panic. They couldn't find their son anywhere he was describing, and now they were worried he may be hurt.
Just after 6 am Brandon's parents went to the authorities in Lynd and attempted to file a missing person's report for Brandon. The police explained that Brandon was an adult and men his age had a habit of staying out late, and that Brandon had the right to be missing if he wanted. However, several hours later, around noon, police did begin the search for Brandon. They started with cell phone records, which lead them to his yellow Chevy Lumina stuck in a ditch on the border of Lincoln and Yellow Page counties in Taunton, MN. Taunton is only 13 miles from Canby, where Brandon started his journey that evening, and approximately 20 miles northwest of where he believed he crashed.
Brandon's car was in the ditch in a way he couldn't get traction to get the vehicle out; the doors were open, and the keys were in the ignition. Police searched the area around the car and were never able to locate Brandon, or any evidence that he had been in the area that night. K-9s led police to the nearby Yellow Medicine River, which prompted a massive, thorough search of the river, although that search also ended empty handed.
Authorities discovered Brandon’s phone had been active for a short time after the call with his father ended, however, they never were able to locate Brandon’s phone. During the investigation Lincoln County sheriff Jack Vizecky joined the search. Sheriff Vizecky was so dedicated to finding Brandon he walked a 2-mile path along the Yellow Medicine River every day during the initial search, then later when the search was resumed, he continued to walk that 2 mile stretch every day; hoping the changing of seasons and weather patterns would unearth something, some piece of evidence that would help answer what happened to Brandon Swanson. Police have theorized that Brandon slipped and fell into the river, dropping his phone on the bank as he fell.
Authorities could not, however, explain why they couldn't find his phone. Detectives also could not explain how Brandon's car was located so far away from where he believed he was, especially when witnesses at the party, and his father, said he did not appear intoxicated; and Brandon grew up in that area, he knew it well, how did he get that turned around and confused?
All anyone knows for sure is that Brandon Swanson went off the road into a ditch and his car was stuck. Brandon called his parents to come and pick him up and stayed on the phone with them as they searched. Brandon was approximately 20 miles northwest of where he believed he was, and no one is certain what lights Brandon may have seen that night.
Despite this, Brandon did tell his father he saw lights and was walking towards them. The call ended abruptly as Brandon yelled out. That was the last time Brandon would be heard from. He’s now been missing for over 14 years, and there has been no evidence found, no trace of Brandon in that time.
Could someone have been in the shadows of the dark road Brandon was walking on and grabbed him; assaulted him and possibly killed him?
Could Brandon have fallen into the river and drowned?
Could Brandon have fallen into the river, gotten out, and died of hypothermia as he tried to reach help?
These seem to be the most credible theories, the most likely explanations as to what happened that night. Authorities and Brandon’s parents are still searching for closure, still looking for answers.
If you have any information about what happened to Brandon Swanson on May 13, 2008, please call the FBI, your local authorities, or Lynd, Lincoln, Lyon, or Marshall County sheriff’s offices.