The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 30 – Brandon Swanson

May 14, 2008. Marshall, Minnesota. The parents of 19-year old Brandon Swanson receive a late-night phone call from their son, who claims that his car has become stuck in a ditch in the middle of nowhere. The Swansons leave to go pick Brandon up, but have trouble finding him. At one point, Brandon’s father hears him shout a swear word over the phone before the call abruptly cuts off, and there is no answer to repeated attempts to phone him back. Even though his abandoned car is eventually found on a rural road, Brandon himself is never heard from again. What happened to Brandon Swanson, and what could have prompted his final reaction during his final phone call? In our latest Halloween-themed extended minisode of “The Trail Went Cold”, we tackle one of the scariest, most baffling missing persons cases of the past decade. Special thanks to Joe from Thinking Sideways Podcast for popping in to share a theory. Be sure to check out their episode about this case.

Additional Reading:–_Brandon_Swanson

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

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8 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 30 – Brandon Swanson

  • Personally, I don’t think that Joe’s scenario is particularly likely. I can’t see Mr Serial Killer allowing his victim to chat to his parents for an hour, as there would be far too much opportunity for him to raise the alarm by knowingly giving false information which would cause the parents to become suspicious as well as the difficulty of making innocuous small-talk while being threatened by a knife-wielding maniac. Secondly, if Brandon was murdered, the killer would find himself in unfamiliar country with a dead body on his hands, yet somehow managed to carry it away and conceal it so effectively that it has never been found.

    It seems to me that if we can really discount the fact that later calls to Brandon’s mobile got the ringing tone, then there’s a much more obvious solution: he had been talking to his parents for some time, so it may simply be that his phone flashed up a message to say that it was out-of-power, leaving just enough time for his exclamation of anger to be overheard by his father.

  • One other thought I had was whether it may have involved a wild animal? Running into something at night would provoke that reaction, and if he was attacked by something, his body could have been dragged off. That said, I am not sure if this is all farmland or what else might be around.

    The added points that Joe added about the location do make me wonder about his directions and such though.

    • I’ve never seen the animal theory proposed by the people involved in the searches for Brandon, so I have a feeling that wild animal attacks are just not common in that particular area.

      • Ok, that does make sense. There is a huge variation in what a rural area might consist of in North America, so it can be hard to properly envision. That said, I wonder if it might be a reason he didn’t quite cut through the field as he said, as related by Joe; even just a random dog might make me change my path some.

        In any case, the apparent confusion as to location really makes me wonder. Lots have been doing that though as I have been listening to all of these lately and much enjoying the listen. 🙂

  • Since the legal drinking age is 21, he would have been in trouble with the law, even if his blood alcohol level was under the legal limit. If you are drinking under the age, then any alcohol in your system is considered over the limit. Maybe that is why he was sticking to the back roads. He was probably afraid of being pulled over for underage drinking. I really believe that is why he was not driving on the highway.

    Also, I tend to believe that one of two things happened. He either injured himself and died of exposure. Or, I think he ran into someone who was doing something illegal on the abandoned farm that he walked up to. To me, those are the only two options that make sense.

  • You know, I have particularly enjoyed these The Trail Went Cold podcasts because I’m addition to being informative, the commentary sprinkled throughout and the theories presented by the author are always about the most reasonable explanation given the evidence at hand.

    That’s why it was jarring to hear this guest today offer their theory. I understand there’s camaraderie between he and the narrator, and the narrator clearly respects him, but the explanation given by him is too out there. Not technically impossible, but it’s so unlikely is like it’s ripped out of the pages of the unsolved mysteries comments section. What seems the most likely to me is that Brandon fell into the river and dropped his phone and either knocked himself out and drowned, or got back up and died of exposure and his body has since been lost to time

  • Joe’s little scenario of Aaron the Serial Killer is a pretty giant leap of massive conjecture more based on fantasy than any of the actual details. I will say though, that the idea that Brandon was being deceptive to his parents isn’t out of the realm of possibility. There is zero evidence of a killer or hitchhiker being with him, but the newer details revealed do align with Brandon trying to find his way to the tavern before he had to rely on his parents…possibly for fear of being discovered drinking and driving. It’s now known that he had just finished serving a year’s probation for a previous DUI offense, and despite what people at the party said, had been drinking that night, so I think it’s obvious he was taking back roads so as not to get pulled over, and possibly being evasive at being found by his parents so quickly in order to sober up first.

    A great writeup of all the facts that have been gathered and revealed over the last 12 years can be found here:
    If you take a step back and look at all these things as a whole, how all the pieces of the puzzle interact, it really looks like as he was cutting across country, he either fell down something or into something, and his remains have just not been found yet. The fact he was drinking and driving, avoiding getting caught, had a congenital blindness (poor depth perception in the dark), didn’t really know where he was, the fact his father has said on the phone it sounded like he might have slipped before the call dropped (“Dammit, another fence”), it all comes together a lot more neatly than people think.

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