The missing persons case of Brian Shaffer resembles all the other Smiley Face Killer disappearances -- before and after his -- with two notable exceptions...
Shaffer vanished upon reentering a bar. And his remains have yet to be recovered.
Ten years later, both of Brian Shaffer's parents are also now deceased, and the reward for info that will help solve their son's puzzling cold case has risen to a $100,000.
The 27-year-old Ohio State University med-student was celebrating Spring Break in downtown Columbus on the evening of April 1, 2006.
He went missing that night at the Ugly Tuna Saloon, a popular bar-and-grille located not far from the one where 26-year-old Joey LaBute similarly disappeared last month.
The LaBute and Shaffer disappearances in Ohio, though spaced a full decade apart, are almost identical in that both magically vanished without a trace inside a pub where they'd been socializing with friends and relatives.
True to The Case of the Drowning Men, however, LaBute's body was found weeks later dumped in an outdoor body of water; but this young man's death is one of the few to subsequently be ruled a homicide.
A medical examiner determined that LaBute hadn't been in the Scioto River the entire time he was gone without a trace. And it was clear by other autopsy results that he didn't really "drown."
Naturally, these two strikingly-similar missing-persons cases in Ohio has generated a lot of speculation as well: For Joey, over what role his "sexuality" might have played. For Brian, whether he "deliberately" fell off the radar or even "killed" himself.
Though Joey LaBute was found dead relatively soon after he disappeared and his suspicious death remains unsolved, the LaBute family has partial closure that the Shaffer family has not.
Thus, the rumors surrounding the Shaffer's missing young man still abound, even ten years after the fact.
“There is a possibility he is alive," conceded one of the detectives who first worked the Brian Shaffer case back in 2006. "But, if you look at the probabilities that he isn’t, those are just as great.”
“Everybody has a theory,” he added,“but the ultimate mystery remains -- where is Brian?”
What do you think, was Shaffer also killed the night he went missing in Ohio? Did he, instead, commit suicide someplace where he'll never be found? Or is he alive and well today, living under a false identity?