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Missing Since 2008: Brandon Swanson


Who Was Brandon Swanson?

Born on January 30, 1989, in Marshall, Minnesota, Brandon Swanson was a 19-year-old college student who was enrolled in a wind turbine program at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Canby.

The Night of the Disappearance

The spring semester had just come to an end and on the night of May 13th, 2008, Swanson attended two different parties to celebrate. He was seen drinking at both parties, but according to his friends, he didn’t drink enough to become intoxicated, at least not overtly.

At around 2 AM on the morning of May 14th, Swanson called his parents from his cellphone, informing them that he had accidentally driven his car into a ditch, essentially high-centering the vehicle. He assured them that both he and the car were fine and that he merely needed them to pick him up.

He told his parents that he believed himself to be near the city of Lynd and that the lights he spotted off in the distance were coming from there. So they drove out there looking for him. Both Swanson and his parents had agreed to flash their headlights on and off in order to signal to each other. However, after several failed attempts at locating Swanson using this method, tensions were rising.

“Don’t you see me?” he asked his parents, exasperated.


Brandon's Last Call

Finally Swanson decided on a different course of action. He would start walking in the direction of the lights. He asked his parents to meet him in the parking lot of a popular nightclub in Lynd. Unfortunately he would never make it there.

Forty-seven minutes into the call, Swanson suddenly exclaimed: “Oh, shit!” Then there was silence. The call didn’t end at that point, though. Brian and Annette waited for their son to tell them what was wrong, but he never did.

Unsure of what else to do, they hung up and tried calling him again multiple times, each time getting no response.

Brandon Swanson would never be seen or heard from again.


Brian and Annette Swanson reported their son missing the next morning. However, local police initially didn’t take their concerns seriously, stating that it wasn’t at all unusual for a young man his age to stay out all night and advising them to just be patient and wait for him to return on his own. “It’s his right to be missing,” one officer reportedly said to the worried parents.

When police obtained Swanson’s cell phone records, they discovered that he had actually been near Porter that night, which is roughly 25 miles away from where he told his parents he was. Shortly thereafter, his car was located in a ditch near Taunton.

Once the search finally did begin, it was an extensive one, covering both the land and the Yellow Medicine River, the latter of which some speculated that Swanson might have fallen into and drowned.

Search dogs picked up his scent on a trail near the river, which they followed to the water and which lead them to the other side of the river (lending credence to the idea that he had, at some point, fallen in), after which they continued north along the riverbank, towards the Yellow Medicine County line, where the trail suddenly ended.

The search dogs also picked up the scent of human remains a few times near Mud Creek, north of Porter. However, no body was, or ever would be, recovered. Interestingly, they also picked up Swanson’s scent on a piece of farm equipment nearby, but the farmer to whom it belonged denied the request of the authorities to search his property.

What Happened to Brandon Swanson?

It is important to note is that, due to an eye injury he suffered as a child, Swanson was legally blind in his left eye, leading him to have depth perception issues, and had to wear glasses. For unknown reasons, he left his glasses in his car that night.

Additionally, there are many unmarked cisterns in the area and it’s possible that he could have fallen into one of them.

Despite the fact that he had been drinking that night, his parents were adamant that he seemed perfectly lucid during their phone call. Another odd detail: although the call continued on for a bit after Swanson had abruptly stopped speaking, they heard nothing at all, which might shed light on what had alarmed their son.

Although foul play has never been ruled out in this case, it was just under 40 degrees that night, so it's possible Brandon succumbed to the elements, especially if he had already fallen into the river—a very real possibility as well.

Brandon's Law

Brian and Annette Swanson never forgot about the nonchalance from law enforcement they encountered when they first reported their son missing.

Wanting to spare other families from having to deal with this, and also knowing how crucial it is in a missing persons case to start investigating as soon as possible, they lobbied for the passing of what would become known as “Brandon’s Law,” which would require law enforcement to immediately begin a preliminary investigation when an adult goes missing under dangerous circumstances, regardless of their age.

The bill was signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty on May 7, 2009, and went into effect on July 1st of that same year.


"The Disappearance of Brandon Swanson," Youtuber, Dining With Death, October 20th, 2022

"Disappearance of Brandon Swanson," Wikipedia

"The Mysterious Disappearance Of Minnesota College Student Brandon Swanson," Neil Patmore, ati, November 25, 2022

"The Disappearance of Brandon Swanson," Christine, The True Crime Files, March 13, 2019