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Brian Vargo

After being dropped off at a bus station, Brian vanishes

  • Last updated: March 8, 2024
  • Austin, TX
  • March 9, 1976

Overview of Brian Vargo

Brian Vargo was described as being a man of few words.

Brian was described as being a man of few words. He was introverted and quiet, often keeping his thoughts to himself in most situations. This made Brian “not necessarily memorable”. However, he was above average in height and handsome, which could make him memorable.

Brian wasn’t part of the popular crowd but wasn’t unpopular amongst his peers. He was quiet and shy. Brian didn’t play sports in college, but he did like to run and play basketball. Brian attended the occasional “Beer Bust”. He drank alcohol, as the legal drinking age was 18 back then. Brian smoked cigarettes in high school and college. In his journals from his first year of school, Brian wrote that he was running to try to beat his nicotine habit - he said he was feeling great and was losing weight.

From 1973 - 1974, Brian worked as a night stocker for Safeway on Memorial Drive and Dairy Ashford Road in Houston. He used the money he made at Safeway to buy a new car, a used 1972 Mazda RX2 sedan, which was white with an orangish interior. Brian also worked at his family’s restaurant off and on but preferred the Safeway job.

In the fall of 1974, Brian started college at the University of Texas at Austin, and in the Spring of 1975, he was on the dean's list at the engineering college.

Events leading up to Brian's disappearance.

In the fall of 1975, Brian went back to UT. He and his first-year roommate moved into the Tinnin Ford apartments and added a roommate. Brian did not do well in the fall semester. His report card showed that he passed 9 out of 12 hours.

In the spring of 1976, Brian went back to UT. He went home to Houston from January 30 - February 2. When Brian returned to UT, he stopped going to three of his four classes - he wasn’t happy with his grades. Brian told his friends and family that he felt unfocused and needed time to clear his head and find himself. He applied to withdraw from UT but didn’t tell his friends or family. According to journal entries, Brian knew he had a privileged life, but felt like he was missing something intangible. On March 9, 1976, Brian’s application for withdrawing was approved by the dean of the engineering college. This is the last documented time Brian’s family has proof of his location.

Brian disappears.

No one is sure when Brian went missing - his roommates don’t remember seeing him after March 9, 1976. At some point, before he disappeared, Brian went home to Houston to get the title for his Mazda, but Brian’s family isn’t sure if he came home before March 9 or after.

Brian withdrew from college and drove to Colorado (the APD doesn’t say why he went to Colorado, but some reports say he went there to sell the car while others say he was going to work on a dude ranch). While he was in Colorado, his car broke down. He then traveled to his parents’ home in Houston, Texas to pick up the Mazda’s title - he was going to sell the car. After picking up the title, Brian’s mom dropped him off at a Katy, Texas gas/bus station. He has never been heard from again.

Brian’s family is unsure where Brian’s car went after he disappeared. Brian’s immediate family said the mechanic, whose shop Brian left the car at, called Brian’s parents to say he had not returned to get the car. The mechanic said the car had been broken into, and he wanted to settle up with the car. There is no evidence that the title was ever transferred.

Investigation into Brian's disappearance.

In 1977, Brian’s mother contacted the Salvation Army missing person’s department. In April 1978, the SA said they were starting the investigation. The SA followed leads and found that Brian talked to his friends about traveling to Colorado and California, which the SA was following up on. The SA said they were asking the Social Security Administration to forward a letter to Brian to see if they could get an address. They also suggested that Brian’s family write a letter to Brian - the letter should be friendly, express concern over not hearing from him, and also say they had a desire to speak with him. The SA said the letter shouldn’t contain any info that would upset Brian. The SA never found Brian and they closed the case in 1980.

Brian’s parents thought he’d come back when he was ready. Because of this, Brian was not reported missing until February 2, 2021.

Where the case stands today.

On April 29, 2021, Austin Police announced that they were seeking help finding Brian. As of today, Austin police are currently investigating Brian’s disappearance. They have found no activity on his social security number since 1976.

A July 21, 2021 update said that Brian’s family “really appreciates the interest, questions, advice, leads and sharing we have received from everyone”. The update said they have tracked down, contacted, and spoken to many of Brian’s friends. The friends confirmed the story that Brian was heading to Colorado. He left for Spring Break ‘76 but didn’t return for classes like they thought he would (they didn’t know he withdrew). Four accounts say that Brian’s friends noticed he didn’t return from his trip, and his roommates reached out to Brian’s parents.

The family believes DNA is available in the NamUS database as well as GEDMatch. They do not have dental records - they don’t exist anymore. The family does have fingerprints.

If anyone has information or knows anything about Vargo’s disappearance, contact APD’s missing persons unit at (512) 974-4123.
This case research is courtesy of Haley Gray. Since 2016, Haley has been a renowned true crime researcher and writer for over 20 podcasts, including My Favorite Murder, Generation Why, Detective Perspective, and Voices for Justice. She is the Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and Research Specialist for True Crime Podcast Training.


  1. Date Missing:March 9, 1976
  2. Birthday:September 8, 1955
  3. Current Age:68
  4. Age at Incident:20
  5. NAMUS Number:MP77718
  6. Race:White / Caucasian
  7. Gender:Male
  8. Height:72
  9. Weight:150
  10. Hair Color:Brown


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