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The conclusion of a Texas man’s bizarre 2013 disappearance may have finally arrived, according to the family.
Brandon Lawson, 26, vanished along a desolate stretch of State Highway 277 outside of San Angelo, Texas — which is about 250 mile southwest of Dallas — on Aug. 9, 2013, according to the San Angelo Standard-Times. On Friday, those closest to Lawson announced that a private team of searchers found clothing that matched those of Lawson’s when he disappeared. That team contacted local authorities and the Texas Rangers, who widened the search and thereafter found human remains.
“Answers are something we have searched for,” the Help Find Brandon Lawson Facebook page read. “And today, I’m sharing with you that we now have some of those answers.”
Ladessa Lofton, the missing man's long-time girlfriend, mother of three of his children (currently ages 9 to 15) and stepmother to his eldest daughter, told Oxygen.com that she had utilized “advocates” over the years to help search for Lawson.
“I had a search team that’s close to me, led by advocate Jason Watts,” said Lofton. “And he led a search team. It was really cold there, about 10 [searchers], and they found his shoes and his shorts.
Lofton said that as soon as they came upon the articles of clothing, they contacted law enforcement, who returned to the scene and found human remains.
“I think when they found the human remains, I feel it’s kind of it,” said Lofton. “ I’m more concerned about the kids right now…they still don’t know how to process this.”
She told Oxygen.com that they expect the DNA results in about one month — which the Coke County Sheriff’s Office confirmed, citing a forensic pathologist’s pending investigation.
Although the tests to conclusively identify the remains are pending, the family said on the Facebook page that, “In our hearts, we know it is Brandon.”
“We feel in our hearts; it’s him,” said Lofton. “We feel like, who else could it be? He wouldn’t leave his family. Brandon wasn’t that type of person.”
At the time of his disappearance, Lawson and Lofton were living together in San Angelo. She said the couple had an argument at home before Lawson left the residence for the last time; in a 2018 interview with the San Angelo Standard-Times, she said they fought because of their long working hours and young kids — but the paper reported this week that Lawson hadn't come home the night before and had recently relapsed into his drug addition.
“When he left, I guess he didn’t have a lot of gas,” said Lofton. “I called my brother-in-law to tell him [Brandon] was going to run out of gas, and put the gas tin on the porch to give to him so he could go get him gas because he was pretty mad at me at the time.”
Lofton added that her phone was about to die and, because she only had a car charger, she left the phone to charge in the vehicle. When she retrieved the phone later in the night, she found several missed calls from Brandon Lawson and her in-laws.
Around 11:30 p.m., Lawson called his parents to let them know he was driving to their place, which is over three hours away from San Angelo on the outskirts of Fort Worth. At 12:30 a.m., he called his brother, Kyle Lawson, for help, having run out of gas along Route 277.
According to the Standard-Times, Brandon Lawson also told Kyle during that phone call he was being chased out of town by Mexicans, leading Kyle to question if he was hallucinating from drugs; Brandon denied it. Kyle Lawson then retrieved the gas can from Lofton’s house and went in search of this brother.
The two called one another on and off for the next 50 minutes, but either the calls kept dropping or Brandon kept hanging up. During one call to Kyle, Lawson claimed he was bleeding.
Around 12:50 a.m., Brandon Lawson called 911 — a recording of which was circulated on the internet — and reached the dispatcher, a nurse at a nursing home in nearby Robert Lee, Texas. Although phone reception was not great, you can hear Lawson tell dispatchers that he’d run out of gas, something was taken out to the woods, he was not alone and he needed the cops.
“It is kind of in-and-out, but you can still understand what he’s saying,” Lofton told Oxygen.com. “He just said somebody was after him… I don’t know what happened. That’s all we have is that 911 call... I still don’t know what happened.”
A Coke County deputy found Lawson’s pickup truck on the side of the road around 1:00 a.m., after a trucker had reported it was partially obstructing the road, according to the Standard-Times; he arrived just as Lawson’s brother showed up with the gas can.
Brandon Lawson, on the phone, told Kyle he could see him arrive, claiming he was “right here.” Brandon, however, was nowhere in sight — and Kyle knew there was a warrant out for his arrest in Johnson County for drug possession with intent to deliver.
Suspecting the warrant was keeping his brother out of sight of the cops —and with neither the deputy or Kyle aware that Brandon had called the police and asked for the cops to come — Kyle chatted briefly with the deputy, confirmed it was Brandon's car and out of gas and drove a little ways up the road for the cop to leave. He waited for Brandon for 30 to 45 minutes after the deputy left, according to Go San Angelo, but, when his brother didn't appear, he left to go feed his young son.
The dispatcher from the nursing home called Brandon back twice, starting at 1:04 a.m., to get more details, but got his voicemail. The brothers traded dropped phone calls until 1:15 a.m., according to the Standard Times, when Brandon tried and failed to reach Kyle twice. Starting 1:19 a.m., all calls to Brandon went straight to voice mail.
Kyle returned to the pickup truck with gas around 5:00 a.m., but couldn't find Brandon, the paper reported. The county had the truck towed around 8:00 a.m.
The deputy conducted a couple small scale searched in the the following days, but didn't find a body or a human heat signature, according to a deputy’s report cited in the paper.
“The only sign of anyone being in that area was a spot under a tree where it appeared someone sat down close to the roadway within eyesight of where Lawson’s pickup broke down,” the report stated.
On Aug. 12, police determined that Lawson was likely no longer in the county. Loften filed a missing person's report on Aug. 13 — which is the same day as a Texas Ranger searched the area by helicopter and determined there was no body out there.
Lawson's girlfriend, Loften, told Oxygen.com that the recently-discovered remains they suspect are Brandon's were within a one-mile radius of where Lawson's truck ran out of gas the night he disappeared.
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