Brandon Lawson was 26 years old when he went missing on August 9, 2013. It’s a puzzling case for many reasons. Not only was Brandon in contact with his brother, Kyle, moments before he disappeared, but they were also in the same area, possibly yards apart.
The basics are this: Brandon was in a fight with his long term girlfriend, Ladessa, and left their home. His truck ran out of gas and he asked his brother to bring a gas can. When Kyle got there, Brandon was not in his vehicle. They spoke on the phone and a police officer pulled up behind Brandon’s truck. Brandon said to Kyle, “One time, run!” According to Kyle this means “law enforcement, run.” Brandon was close enough to observe what was happening at his truck, but no one at the scene ever saw him.
When Kyle refused to run from the cop, Brandon hung up on him. This detail makes the case even more confusing because Brandon, himself, called 911 before Kyle’s arrival. You can listen to the 911 recording here:
So why did Brandon call for help, then tell Kyle to run from the officer? What is he trying to explain to the emergency dispatcher? And what events led up to this night? The phone call with Kyle would be the last time anyone ever spoke to Brandon Lawson. It’s been over 7 years and his disappearance remains unsolved.
Here’s the timeline of events:
August 8th, 2013
Approximately 10:45-11:00 PM: Brandon and Ladessa argued. In the Missing Maura Murray podcast, Ladessa says the argument started because she believed Brandon was on drugs. She told him to get out. (Kyle later confirms that Brandon had done methamphetamines prior to his disappearance. Brandon had ongoing issues with substance abuse and had previously been clean for 6 months.)
11:54 PM: Brandon leaves his house in San Angelo, TX. It’s believed he was heading to his dad’s house near Fort Worth, TX.
August 9th, 2013
Approximately 12:30 AM: Brandon calls Kyle to say he ran out of gas while driving on US277 toward Bronte, TX. Kyle, with his girlfriend and son in the car, head over to Ladessa’s because they need to pick up a gas can.
12:50 AM: Brandon calls 911.
12:58 AM: A passing truck driver calls 911 to report Brandon’s abandoned truck on the side of the highway. The vehicle was parked in a hazardous manner with its tail end hanging over the white line.
1:18 AM: Kyle calls Brandon to find his exact location. Brandon sounded out of breath, like he was running, and claimed he was bleeding. He told them to hurry before hanging up.
Approximately 1:30 AM: Kyle arrives at Brandon’s truck but he’s not in the vehicle. While on the phone with Brandon, a police officer pulls up to the scene. Brandon says, “One time, run!” to Kyle, to which Kyle responded that he wasn’t going to run. Brandon said, “Where is your pride, mother fucker?” then hung up.
Approximately 1:30-4:30 AM: the details are a little unclear during this time, but Kyle says that he drove up and down the highway looking for Brandon. At some point he had to leave to get his son food. Afterward, he returned to search, possibly with friends.
Approximately 4:00 AM: Ladessa woke up and noticed multiple missed calls from Kyle, Brandon, and Brandon’s mom. Her phone had been in her van because her only charger at the time was a car charger. Ladessa tries to call Brandon back but his phone continuously rings. She assumes he doesn’t have service. She eventually speaks to Kyle and he tells her that he’s at the truck but they haven’t been able to find Brandon.
7:00 AM: Kyle puts gas in Brandon’s truck and leaves.
Approximately 8:30-9:00 AM: The Sheriff’s Department has Brandon’s truck towed.
Other important details
[*] Brandon had an outstanding warrant. Kyle believed this to be the reason that Brandon was hiding from the officer at the scene. He didn’t know that Brandon had called 911 and didn’t realize how serious the situation was at that time. When Brandon told Kyle he was bleeding, Kyle assumed he had tripped or run into a cactus. Brandon never told him of an attack or anyone else present that night.
[*] Brandon had been experiencing paranoia that day. He told Kyle that Ladessa “had people from their neighborhood after him.” Ladessa doesn’t know why Brandon said that and Kyle is adamant that Brandon was simply being paranoid.
[*] Law enforcement initially suspected that Kyle was involved, either by helping Brandon run away or due to foul play. Kyle agreed to take a polygraph. He’s been administered two and passed.
[*] The area where Brandon disappeared has been searched many times, both on foot and from a Birdseye view. Thermal imaging cameras, plane searches, and cadaver dogs were all used in the days after. A PI hired by the Lawsons also searched via helicopter.
[*] The terrain in the area where Brandon disappeared is extremely rough. It’s known to be inhabited by wild hogs and rattlesnakes. This is Brandon’s last known location. 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. Some listeners of the 911 call believe they can hear gunshots in the background; Kyle says that’s the noise of cars driving on the bridge over the Colorado River.
[*] According to this San Angelo news article, Brandon withdrew from his 401K before his disappearance. This is confirmed by Ladessa in the article, though she’s unaware whether he received the money. His last paycheck was direct deposited on the night he went missing and Brandon never withdrew that money.
[*] None of Brandon’s items, such as his phone, keys or wallet, have ever been recovered. After helicopter searches, the Coke County Sheriff asserts that there was no sign of a struggle. One spot underneath a tree appeared to have indentation marks. The sheriff said it’s possible this is where Brandon crouched to watch Kyle and the officer at his truck.
So what happened to Brandon Lawson? Deputy Neal, of the Coke County Sheriff’s Office, thinks he walked back to the highway and got a ride. Law enforcement unanimously reports that foul play was not a factor and believes a body would have been found if Brandon was still in Coke County. But the Lawsons assert that Brandon never would have left his family and Kyle denies he was hallucinating from drugs. Many feel that the 911 call points to foul play. Others hear the recording as a sign of drug-induced mania and believe Brandon succumbed to the elements.
There’s no shortage of conspiracy theories claiming abduction by drug cartels, or the trucker who called 911, or police cover-ups, and the list goes on and on. We can only hope that this case is solved someday. Until then, we can’t help but wonder how a 26-year-old, father of four seemingly vanished into thin air.