Pearl Jam: The Fan Who Went Missing & How Eddie Vedder Tried to Help

Eddie Vedder Tried to Help Locate Missing Pearl Jam Fan Brian Shaffer

Pearl Jam fan and college student Brian Shaffer would vanish in 2006 and never be seen again. It’s a truly puzzling story that saw the alternative band Pearl Jam intervene. Check it out below!

I had previously talked about Motley Crue aiding a police investigation to find a missing fan. The link to that video is down below. Today I want to talk about a similar set of circumstances involving the band Pearl Jam and one of their fans who went missing. 

This event happened a year after the MOtley Crue one did. It involves an Ohio State 2nd year med student named Brian Shaffer. March 31,2006 was a Friday, and was the beginning of a week long spring break for Ohio State students. Shaffer started the night by going out for dinner with his father Randy. His father recalled to the police that his son seemed exhausted from studying for his midterm exams pulling all nighters. Brian was planning on meeting up with a friend William “Clint” Florence after dinner at a bar on campus called the Ugly Tuna Saloona in Columbus The pair would go bar hopping towards the arena district before meeting up with a friend of Florence named Meredith Reed. She would give the pair a ride back to the Ugly Tuna saloona where they were planning on ending the night. 

The bar is located don the second level of a building and is primarily accessed through an escalator. Security cameras at the bar captured the trio Around 12:30am coming up the escalator to the bar.  

 

Schaffer and Florence were spotted on camera at 1:55am chatting outside of the bar with two women before heading back in. THe women schaffer was talking to gave schaffer was apparently flirtatious with him and gave him her number. That would be the last time brian was spotted on camera. The bar closed 5 minutes later at 2am and Schaffer and Florence waited for Brian outside the bar, but he didn’t show. They thought he may have wandered home since his apartment was only several blocks away. When Brian missed his flight the following monday to florida that’s when concern grew over his whereabouts and he was reported missing.

It should be noted that the bar had three exits, two of which had cameras. The rear exit didn’t have a camera but there was a lot of construction going on in the alleyway and the tight space out back led some to believe it was unlikely he left the bar that way since he was likely intoxicated. The university area where the bar was located also had a significantly high crime rate  In reviewing the footage the police had several theories. One of the security cameras from the bar  would pan the area so perhaps one of the camera’s missed him as he was leaving. Another theory is that he simply vanished not wanting to be found possibly disguising himself in different clothes than he entered with. There were several things going on in Brian’s life around the time of his disappearance. One was that his mother had passed away from a rare form of cancer several weeks prior and while his friends stated to the police that he seemed to be handling it well, it was also a devastating blow for him.Another was that he frequently told friends that his real passion was to be playing in a rock band despite his decision to pursue a career in music. At the time of his disappearance Brian was in a relationship with a fellow medical student named Alexis Waggoner. She would reveal that a few nights before his disappearance Brian told her to move on and find someone else, as he was struggling with his mom’s death. A couple weeks earlier, he asked her to and i i quote “just go away” with him. It was also widely reported that Brian was planning on taking a vacation with his girlfriend to Florida a few days after he disappeared. In fact the night he disappeared he had called his girlfriend around 10pm confirming the vacation plans and telling her he loved her. It was reported by several sources that he was planning on proposing to her. In similar cases where someone has disappeared or vanished investigators claim people disappear as an act of desperation, not when they are about to go on vacation, which made this case very mind boggling.

Another theory is that perhaps something more sinister happened maybe he was murdered inside the bar and hidden somewhere. Some online sleuths believe he may have been the victim of the smiley face serial killer who preyed on young drunk college men. The police investigated this theory and have ruled it out. 

 Several days after Brian’s disappearance a homeless person claimed to have seen him, but after the police questioned him, he didn’t reveal much. There has been some suspicion cast on his friend William Clint Florence,  who he went drinking with that night since he refused to take a lie detector test. 

Brian was a member of Pearl Jam’s fan club Ten He had bought tickets to the band’s show in Detroit on May 22, 2006. His girlfriend would end up auctioning the sets to raise money for his reward fund.

His father, Randy, was taken aback by the support he received from the 10 Club and the Pearl Jam community. His father would attend a Pearl Jam show in Cincinnati in 2006, where frontman  Eddie Vedder mentioned his son as you can see here.

Four years later during a show in Columbus Vedder mention his son during a 2010 show and dedicated the song Come back to him. 

It was a truly horrible time for his father Randy whose wife passed away from a few weeks before his son disappeared.Randy would spend the next several years chasing every lead, in hopes of finding his son until a freak accident took his life in 2008. After his death a condolence book was posted online and one of the signatures read “To Dad, love Brian.” The message appeared to be posted from the US virgin islands giving more creedance to the theory tat he started a new life somewhere else, but when investigators looked into this they determined it was a hoax. 

In the years that followed there were reported sightings of Brian in Texas, Michigan and even across the pond in Sweden, all of which were investigated but didn’t shed any more light on his disappearance. 

In 2014, Columbus police would reveal that there local crime stoppers hotline was still receiving fseveral tips a month 

In 2019, a picture of a homeless American man in Tijuana mexico surfaced online. Some speculated it may have been Shaffer. It would make its way to the FBI who used facial recognition technology and confirmed it was not Shaffer. As recently as march of this year the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation put out an age enhanced photo of what they think Shaffer would look like today. 

Detective John Hurst who was assigned the case would recall to Dispatch.com in 2019 his summarization of Brian’s status Is Brian alive? “There is a possibility he is alive, but if you look at the probabilities that he isn’t alive, those are just as great.”