Who amongst us hasn’t experienced the worry and anxiety-filled moments of waiting for a loved one who hasn’t returned home when you expected them? As the seconds slip to minutes, and then to hours, we imagine any number of unfortunate and unpleasant events that could have befallen them. The panic increases exponentially if you try to reach them and get no answer. What could have happened? Where could they be? But then... you hear the key slide in the lock, or they text or call to tell you they are alright. The relief. It rushes over you and you are comforted.
Imagine though if you never get that call and your loved one never returns. What do you do?
Bryce Laspisa is described by friends and loved ones as a charming, charismatic, kind, and artistically talented 19 year old. His cheerful and friendly demeanor immediately put people at comfort. It’s easy to see from photos that he was the type of kid who stood out from the crowd with his red hair and striking green eyes. He was a talented artist, majoring in graphic and industrial design at Sierra College in Rocklin. Though he was just at the beginning of his career journey, he was already building an impressive portfolio of work.
Bryce grew up in a tight-knit family. He and his family were new to California, having spent Bryce’s childhood in Illinois. He and his parents made a cross-country move to California after he graduated from college. He seemed to be thriving in this new phase of his life. His freshman year at college appeared to go well. He made a number of friends and had also started dating another student, Kim Sly. When the school year ended, he went back to his parents’ home in Laguna Niguel to spend the summer with them.
The beginning of his sophomore year; however, brought about a change in Bryce’s behavior. Those around Bryce at school noticed that his alcohol intake had increased dramatically in the two weeks before classes started. His odd demeanor didn’t seem to be entirely attributable to alcohol, and when he received push back from friends, admitted that he had been taking the ‘study drug’ Vyvanse.
On August 26, 2013. Bryce attended a speech class and a web design class that day, and he phoned his mother that night to tell her how much he loved them. As far as Karen was concerned, the talk had been perfectly natural. Bryce was active and delighted about the new semester, and it didn’t show like there was anything she required to be worried about. His behavior with those at school was very different. His relationship with his girlfriend, Kim, decline to the point where he broke up with her. Late that night, he phoned his mother from Kim’s house to let her know that he was planning on coming home. He urged his mom to convince Kim to give him his keys back - she had taken them because he was acting erratically and she did not believe he should drive.
The following morning Bryce’s parents are notified by their insurance company of a request for roadside assistance. What follows is a truly confusing and terrifying journey for these parents. They discover that Bryce never returned to school. Through some work, his mother found the mechanic that responded to the roadside assistance and he agreed to return to the location of the request. Bryce was still there. His mother was able to speak to him, and with some reassurance from Bryce, they agreed to wait for him to make the 3-hour journey home. Bryce though never arrived. The police were alerted. They found him in nearly the same place, interviewed him, gave him a field sobriety test and found him to be ok. He assured them he would be on his way. Almost 13 hours later, the mechanic drives by the same location and found that Bryce had not left yet. The mechanic phoned his mother and they were able to get him to leave. The mechanic followed him for about 10 miles before going on his way. Bryce’s parents hear from him several more times, but Bryce never comes home.
What happened to Bryce in these few fateful days before his disappearance? Explore his case to learn more and maybe you can help solve what happened to him.