Brandon Lawson had a lot to live for. He had been dedicated to his fiancee, Ladessa Lofton, for 10 years and the couple had three children. Brandon also had a child from a previous relationship. By all accounts, Brandon was a loving and attentive father. But he had struggled with substance abuse issues in the past and had recently relapsed shortly before his disappearance in 2013.
More than six years later, Brandon?s family and those familiar with the case still wonder whether his drug issues played a role in his disappearance and, if so, what role?
Into the Darkness
Brandon with Ladessa Lofton
The evening of August 9, 2013, wasn?t a very good one for Brandon Lawson. The 26-year-old San Angelo, Texas, resident was an oil field worker who sometimes spent 13 hours on the job at a time. According to Ladessa, Brandon sometimes worked 95 hours a week. The long hours precipitated a job change, and Brandon was to start his new job soon. 
Brandon Lawson on the job
When a very tired Brandon arrived home on August 9, his exhaustion only grew worse when he began arguing with his fiancee.  He was said to have been in ?panic mode.? But Ladessa had a right to be angry; her common-law husband hadn?t come home at all the previous night and she was frustrated by his recent drug use.
In a rage, Brandon left the family?s home intending to drive to his father?s house in the town of Crowley, a 3.5-hour drive away.  Worried about her fiancee?s state of mind behind the wheel, Ladessa phoned Brandon and asked him not to go all the way to Crowley. It was already after midnight. Instead, Ladessa suggested he make the five-mile trek to his brother?s house to spend the night.
Brandon switched gears and started driving north on Highway 277 towards Abilene, abandoning his journey towards his father?s house along Highway 67. This doesn?t necessarily mean he decided to heed Ladessa?s advice, however. It?s possible that Brandon chose an even longer route to his father?s house. Brandon had a bench warrant, so it?s plausible he was still headed to his father?s house but opted to take the backroads to avoid police or to take a more scenic route. Of course, it wouldn?t have made much sense to take the scenic route in the middle of the night, but he wasn?t in the best frame of mind at the time.
Brandon?s truck was almost out of gas, but he decided to try and make the 30-minute drive to Stripes Convenience Store and gas station.
Meanwhile, back at Brandon and Ladessa?s home, Ladessa phoned Brandon?s brother, Kyle, out of concern for Brandon?s well-being after their argument. Kyle offered to come with his girlfriend, Audrey, and visit Ladessa and the children, one of whom was sick at the time. Kyle arrived at the home around 12:10 a.m.
Kyle Lawson ? Source: GoSanAngelo
About 45 minutes after Brandon took off in his truck, he, too, phoned Kyle, but not for a wellness check. He needed his brother to bring him gasoline, as his truck had stopped running along Highway 277, near Bronte. It was hard to make out everything Brandon was saying because cell service was spotty in the area where his truck broke down.
The last thing Brandon told his brother was:
?I?m 10 minutes up the road. Just hurry up and get here.?
At some point, while he was on the phone with his brother, Brandon said:
?Three (expletives) are chasing me out of town.? 
That expletive referred to Mexicans, and when Brandon said this, Kyle immediately suspected that meth was contributing to his brother?s state of mind and asked him if he was tripping, but Brandon assured him he was not.
Kyle called Ladessa and told her to leave a gas can on the porch, which she did before taking a shower and going to bed.  She also put her cellphone in her van to charge, as her phone was running out of juice and she didn?t have a working charger that she could use in the house.
With her phone out of sight and out of mind, Ladessa missed several calls from both Kyle and Brandon. When she went to sleep that night, she expected that Brandon would be back in the morning.
The plan to help Brandon was a lengthy one ? not as simple as picking up the gas can and taking gasoline to the broken-down truck. Kyle was still waiting for his latest paycheck to clear, so he would have to pick up the gas can, drive out to where Brandon was stranded, get money from him, go get gas, and then return to Brandon?s truck.
But when Kyle and Audrey arrived at the location Brandon directed them to, he was nowhere to be found. Brandon?s truck wasn?t sitting alone alongside the road, however; a police car was parked next to it. It didn?t appear that an accident had occurred, nor were there any signs of a struggle.
A concerned motorist had seen the abandoned truck and the odd way in which it was parked and had phoned the police.
The Frantic 911 Call
When Kyle and Audrey arrived at the mile marker where Brandon told him they would be, Deputy Neal from the Coke County Sheriff?s Office explained that he had been dispatched to the spot after a passing motorist had called 911.
Shortly after Brandon hung up with his brother the last time, a terrified and frantic Brandon also called 911. The dispatcher had a difficult time deciphering a great deal of what Brandon was saying, but they were able to make out the following:
?Yes, I?m in the middle of a field (inaudible), pushed some guys over, right here going towards Abilene, on both sides. My truck ran out of gas, there?s one guy here, the guy?s chasing (inaudible) to the woods, please hurry!? 
He also told the dispatcher:
?We?re not talking to him (inaudible) I told you I ran into ?em ? that?s the first guy.?
When the dispatcher asked Brandon if he needed an ambulance, he replied:
?No, I need the cops!?
After that, the connection went dead.
Source: Murders, Mysteries and Missing
It would be three days before anyone realized that Brandon had phoned 911, as no one was dispatched to his location after that. Ladessa only discovered the exchange while scrolling through Brandon?s phone records. It?s likely the dispatcher dismissed Brandon?s pleas for help when the call dropped.
Many recordings of the 911 call have made the rounds online, some slowed down or enhanced in an effort to learn more. It?s clear from these recordings that Brandon was desperate and out of breath. His thick southern drawl sometimes makes it difficult to determine what he is saying. It?s possible that his intoxicated state contributed to the garbled nature of the call.
Kyle and Audrey noticed that Brandon appeared to have abandoned his truck in haste.  The back end was sticking out on the road, its doors unlocked. The passing motorist had called the police because he believed the protruding truck was a hazard to other drivers. Brandon?s keys, wallet, and cellphone were missing.
Somewhere in the midst of the chaos and confusion that night, Brandon managed to call Audrey to tell her that he was bleeding, but once again, it was impossible to glean any more details from the call because of the poor connection.
Despite numerous searches of thousands of acres of land, including the use of cadaver dogs, infrared cameras, and airplanes to search from above, no one has seen or heard from Brandon Brandon since that fateful night.
Since Brandon?s 911 call was of such poor quality, it?s frustrating trying to figure out what he was saying and what, if anything, was happening to him in those moments. Yet, the theories of what happened to him depend largely on that call because, frankly, that?s all we have to go on.
Thanks to the Crawlspace podcast, which interviewed Kyle Lawson, we now have a lot more details than we did when Brandon first went missing.
He Was Murdered
A hastily abandoned vehicle, a 911 call placed by a panic-stricken man, and a disappearance spanning 6.5 years. Yup, it definitely sounds like murder. You know what they say, though: Never judge a book by its cover.
The theory that Brandon was murdered is supported by the following facts:
- Brandon indicated in the 911 call that he was not alone. He ?pushed some guys over? on ?both sides.? This obviously suggests that he was in the presence of more than one person. He goes on to say in the call that one person was chasing him, and another one was doing something in the field?running towards it, perhaps. We may never know.
- Based on the 911 call, Brandon ?ran into? these people, though it?s not clear exactly what that means. Some have suggested he physically ran into another vehicle or hit an actual person, but there was nothing found at the scene to suggest either scenario had occurred.
- He requested the police.
- He claimed he was bleeding.
- He mentioned to his brother, Kyle, that ?the Mexicans in the neighborhood? were after him. However, no one knew who he was referring to, and his truck broke down in a desolate area, not a neighborhood.
- During an interview with Kyle on the Crawlspace podcast, Kyle said Brandon told him that Ladessa got the aforementioned ?Mexicans from the neighborhood? to chase him out of town. Two were still chasing him, but a third one had been pulled over by a state trooper. 
- A second voice may have been recorded on the 911 call. 
If Brandon had been murdered, investigators surely would have found blood at the scene, which they did not. It?s possible that Brandon was taken by someone and murdered elsewhere, but that doesn?t change the fact that Brandon said he was bleeding but no blood was ever found ? not on the road, not in the field, not in or on his truck. Let me put it this way: If blood was found, the information was never made public.
Now, about the second voice on the 911 call? I?ve listened to the call and it does, indeed, sound like someone was with Brandon when he placed the call. But, again, the call was of such poor quality that it?s hard to say for certain whether it was a voice or just background noise. It could have been the voice of someone who stopped to help Brandon, but if the person was just a Good Samaritan, why hasn?t he come forward to be identified and interviewed by police?
At the time of his disappearance, Brandon was once again involved in drugs. His family states this as fact. He also had an outstanding felony warrant for delivering drugs, so we can say with relative ease that he was involved with some unsavory people.
Did he owe money? Was he a narc? There may very well have been a motive for killing Brandon Lawson.
He Ran Away
Brandon had a couple of solid reasons to run away.
First, there was his felony warrant, which carried a sentence of two to 20 years in prison. However, he was out on bond, so he was likely looking at more probation, time served, or a very short sentence.
But if he was back on drugs and tested positive for a substance (drug screenings are always a condition for parole when drug charges are involved), that could have derailed his chances of merely extending his probation and may have placed him behind bars.
So, is it possible that Brandon faked his own death/abduction to escape his legal problems? Absolutely.
Brandon?s family has stated, however, that Brandon had already done time in state prison and was not fearful of having to go back.
The thing is, his family said he was dealing with the felony charge and had an attorney. He was not trying to get out of it; he was facing it head-on. Also, he would have been abandoning his fiancee and his four children, which no one associated with Brandon believes he would have had the heart to do.
If he disappeared of his own accord, it seems odd that he would take his keys, wallet, and cellphone with him. After 3 a.m. on the morning of his disappearance, neither his phone nor his credit/debit cards were ever used again. His keys were rendered useless when his truck was finally towed. It appears that none of the missing items from his truck served him any purpose, and if he was trying to fake his own murder or abduction, it would have made much more sense to leave those things behind.
On the other hand, maybe he just always kept those things on him at all times and their absence has little to do with what happened to him.
I also think it?s interesting that a man who was supposedly on the run from law enforcement called 911 asking for the police. Those were the very people he would have avoided.
Since there have been no signs that Brandon Lawson started a new life, the logical conclusion ? if you believe he was on the run ? is that he hid out somewhere and died there.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of meth, very few of the details of this case make sense.
Source: Evergreen Drug Rehab
Brandon?s brother, Kyle, has mentioned on numerous podcasts that his brother was a meth user who was high at the time of his disappearance. (Thank you, Reddit, for this tidbit.)
According to Kyle, Brandon?s argument with Ladessa was about drugs. It seems that Brandon had tried to score some meth earlier in the day and was trying to talk his brother into helping him get some. Kyle also mentioned that Brandon had done meth on the night of his disappearance. 
When Kyle was summoned to Brandon and Ladessa?s home after the couple argued, Ladessa told him that Brandon was ?flipping out? and ?tripping.?
I?ve written about my experiences with meth addicts in the past on this blog. They can become highly paranoid and experience psychosis. Their decision-making skills are shot, so getting behind the wheel of a truck and making a confusing 911 call while high isn?t as crazy as it might sound.
If it?s true the Brandon was on meth when he ran out of gas, he could have been seeing people and things that weren?t there. He could have been paranoid, in general, that he was being followed.
In other words, Brandon may not have been making anything up at all. He fully believed he was being followed by Mexicans, he fully believed he was in a field flanked by people who wanted to do him harm. Maybe he was bleeding, but it wasn?t because anyone attacked him.
In his fearful, paranoid state, it?s possible that Brandon wandered off somewhere to ?hide? and succumbed to the elements or to a drug overdose. He could have fallen in the water (he was near the Colorado River and a bridge) and drown for all we know.
Or, Brandon was involved in a drug deal gone bad while he was high. But again, where is the evidence of a crime and where is his body?
Other Points of Interest
Let?s refer back to the Crawlspace podcast for a moment since Kyle revealed some other notable facts on the show. You can listen to the episode below.
Kyle states that when he and his girlfriend arrived at the arranged meet-up spot, they saw Brandon?s truck but not Brandon and asked him over the phone where he was. Brandon told them he was ?right there,? but they didn?t see him. Could Brandon have gotten lost? Was he in a drug-induced psychosis? Was he injured nearby, face-down in the dirt, and they literally couldn?t see him? Was this a ruse to fake his own death/disappearance?
During the call, a police vehicle approached Kyle, which caused Brandon to shout over the phone, ?One time, run!? Kyle responded by telling him he hadn?t done anything wrong and wasn?t going to run, to which Brandon replied, ?Where is your pride, motherf*cker?? He then hung up on Kyle.
Kyle is absolutely certain that his brother was able to see him from his vantage point because he was able to warn him that a police vehicle was approaching. The ?field? in question is actually teeming with trees and brush, so it would have been relatively easy for Brandon to find a hiding spot.
Kyle said he has no idea why Brandon would have instructed him to run from the cop since Brandon is the one who called 911 in the first place.
Kyle asked the cop to go down the road and look for his brother because of the shoddy cellphone service. The cop informed him that he would do so, but he had just come from that direction and there was no sign of Brandon.
After Brandon disappeared, Kyle was heavily scrutinized by the police, but he passed two polygraph tests. He stated that he believes the police officer he spoke to that night should be subjected to a polygraph, as well.
Now, let?s assume for a minute that the police were involved in Brandon?s disappearance. They could have easily told everyone that no blood or signs of a struggle were found and that they never saw Brandon along the road or in the field. Though Kyle doesn?t come out and say it, one possibility is that Brandon stumbled across police officers doing something illegal and they had to do away with Brandon to protect themselves.
Also, Kyle doesn?t believe Ladessa had anyone run Brandon out of town, but it does put a new spin on the case. According to Redditors, Kyle told reporters that Brandon thought that Mexicans were chasing him about eight months before he went missing. Maybe Ladessa was sick of dealing with a drug addict? Admittedly, it is a very sad, very frustrating, very infuriating situation to deal with. The lies get old, fast. Especially when children are involved. Do I believe that Ladessa actually got Mexicans to run her fiancee out of town? Nope. But it?s still a theory.
Scraper? Staper? Sniper?
As I mentioned, Kyle believes the state trooper he encountered that night should submit to a polygraph test. This begs the question, were the cops involved in Brandon?s demise?
During the 911 call, Brandon refers to something that sounds like ?scraper? or ?staper? in between telling the dispatcher, ?I?m in the middle of a field,? and, ?My truck broke down.? Some have suggested he may have been saying ?sniper,? or he was trying to say ?state trooper? and garbled his words. Kyle believes Brandon was saying ?state trooper.?
Brandon Lawson?s children
In the more than six years since Brandon Lawson went missing, family and friends have never given up on finding the young man who had so much promise, yet was in the merciless grip of drugs. Still, much has changed over the years. Most notably, Ladessa Lofton got married in May 2019.
I?m so sad that the father of her children is still out there somewhere and that she?s received no closure. Good for her, for moving on with her life. Things can?t stay in a suspended state forever.
In my unprofessional opinion, Brandon was on drugs the night he disappeared. He was hallucinating and paranoid. He wandered off somewhere and either succumbed to the elements, drown, or was fatally injured. I don?t think he is still alive, he just hasn?t been found yet.
The story is so creepy and unnerving, though, that the possibility he was murdered will always lurk in the dark recesses of my mind unless or until the truth finally emerges.
Many people have a harsh opinion of drug users. Unless you?ve dealt with substance abuse yourself, it?s hard to understand why anyone would risk everything to get high. I get it, believe me. I do. It?s hard for me to understand the draw of a drug as destructive as methamphetamine.
The truth is that people use drugs to cope with pain. Wherever Brandon Lawson is right now, I hope he has found healing and freedom from his demons.
May the future be good to Ladessa, as well as Brandon?s children.
- The Theorum Factory
- Go San Angelo
- NBC News Dallas-Fort Worth
- Crawlspace Podcast