Brandon Lawson was no stranger to struggle — but knew he had the love and support of family and friends.
An oil field worker and father of four, Brandon worked long hours and was hopeful about a new job opportunity. He was in a long-term relationship with Ladessa Lofton. On the Generation Why podcast, Brandon’s friend, Jason Watts recalls how funny Brandon was in high school and his natural ability to make a crowd laugh. Referring to Brandon’s common-law wife, Ladessa, Jason said she is a tough lady, and the driving force behind the continued search efforts for Brandon. Brandon was a son, grandson, father, brother, nephew and friend to many.
Brandon was last seen when he left his San Angelo, Texas home on August 8, 2013 at approximately 11:53 PM after a spat with Ladessa, his long-time girlfriend. In an effort to cool off, Brandon left in his truck for his father’s house. En route, Brandon called his brother, Kyle, asking for help as he’d run out of gas on Highway 277 near Bronte, Texas. Kyle and his girlfriend, Audrey, called Ladessa to let her know what happened and the three coordinated plans that included Ladessa leaving a gas can on her porch for Kyle and Audrey to pick up and bring to Brandon to assist. Kyle’s most recent paycheck hadn’t cleared yet so he couldn’t purchase gas to fill the can, but planned to bring Brandon the can so that he could fill his truck’s gas himself.
Kyle arrived at Brandon's location at 1:10 AM, August 9, 2013 but there was no sign of Brandon. A Sheriff's Deputy, Deputy Neal, arrived at the truck at the same time, and there was no visible damage to Brandon's truck, but his keys and his cell phone were gone.
Unbeknownst to the deputy, Kyle and Audrey, Brandon had made a call to 911 telling the dispatcher he was "in a field" and needed help and that he needed the cops. The dispatcher heard Brandon say "I ran into somebody" and responded to him, "Ahhh, ran into them? Ok." Another call was made to 911, by a truck driver passing by to report Brandon's truck was posing a hazard parked crooked on the side of the road.
While speaking with the deputy, Kyle received a call from Brandon, but it was a poor connection and Brandon was hard to understand. What Kyle heard was "I'm in the field." Kyle knew Brandon had recently been made aware of a warrant out for his arrest from two years ago. He wondered if Brandon was avoiding the cops for this reason, so Kyle made no mention of Brandon being on the phone. Had Kyle known Brandon had previously called 911 he would never have assumed his brother was “hiding.”
At 1:18 AM Audrey texted Brandon to warn him that "A cop is at your truck,” presumably in light of the warrant. Again, at this time they were not aware that Brandon himself had called 911 urgently requesting help and asking for the cops. In later statements given to police, they did admit Brandon's earlier call to them in which he told his brother, and Audrey, that "he was ten minutes up the road, and was bleeding." This information was not reported to Deputy Neal at the scene and it is unknown whether or not Deputy Neal was even aware of Brandon’s 911 call.
According to the Sheriff owned local newspaper, The Observer Enterprise, the 911 call was reported as "a stranded motorist who ran out of gas." They failed to include the urgency or Brandon’s statement.
Deputy Neal put emergency flashers on, locked the truck and proceeded to "leave the scene,” and arranged for a tow in the morning. According to reports the Deputy did continue searching for Brandon — he drove up and down the roadway to see if he could spot Brandon walking. Kyle and Audrey also searched for Brandon, but before doing so, they left the empty gas can in the bed of Brandon’s truck thinking if Brandon came back he would have the can and could retrieve gas.
When the sun came up and there was still no sign of Brandon, Kyle and Audrey grew more concerned.
Kyle's check had now cleared and the funds were available in his account, so he went back to the truck and filled the can with gas and returned it to the truck. In their next conversation with investigators, Kyle now relayed the full account of Brandon being on the phone at the time the Deputy Neal was at the truck.
Kyle and the rest of Brandon’s family remained unaware that Brandon had ever called 911 until his partner, Ladessa, saw the 911 call on the itemized cell phone transactions provided by law enforcement. Since then, there has been no activity on Brandon's bank accounts or his cell phone. An extensive search in the area around Brandon’s abandoned truck was conducted by professional Search and Rescue on October 24, 2013.
Several searches have been conducted of the area surrounding where Brandon’s truck had been found on the night of his disappearance. One specific area remained unsearched because it was private property, until 2022.
Where the case stands today
In 2022, advocate and friend of the Lawson family, Jason Watts and the ladies of the Cults Crimes and Cabernet podcast gathered a group of volunteers to finally search a previously unsearched area after finally receiving permission to search the private property. During this search, several articles of clothing were found, which matched those that Brandon was wearing when he left his home on the night of August 8, 2013. Texas Rangers were immediately called, and quickly began their own search, which led to the discovery of partial human remains.
As of April of 2022, the results of DNA testing to confirm the identity of the remains have not been released.