Under different circumstances, Brian Shaffer's vanishing act on April Fools' Day 2006 might have been the ultimate prank. That year, the holiday fell on the first Saturday of spring break for students at Ohio State University, where 27-year-old Shaffer was a medical student, and he'd spent it on a bar crawl with friends. Columbus' Ugly Tuna Saloona was the first and final stop. But when the lights came on at the end of the night, his friends couldn't find Shaffer anywhere, reports MEL Magazine. Nor could anyone else in the days that followed. Then police discovered something odd: An entrance camera showed Shaffer entering the Ugly Tuna Saloona around 1:15am, but not leaving. Another camera showed he hadn't slipped out an emergency exit, either.
In fact, every single person who entered the bar that night was seen leaving, except Shaffer. It's possible he escaped through an unwatched freight elevator, but security cameras from nearby bars should have spotted him afterward. Tips later claiming Shaffer was killed or living in the Virgin Islands turned out to be hoaxes. Apparent sightings of Shaffer as far away as Sweden went nowhere. But every night, Shaffer's girlfriend—whom Shaffer had planned to make his fiance during a spring break trip to Miami—would call his phone. Normally, it went straight to voicemail. But six months after Shaffer disappeared, it rang, pinging a tower in a Columbus suburb. That helps keep hope alive. Click for the full piece, which reveals two more tragedies to hit the Shaffer family. (Read more Longform stories.)