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Is Brian Shaffer alive?

An attorney believes that an Ohio State medical student who has been missing for more than three years is alive, he told a private investigator in an e-mail.

Brian Shaffer has been missing since April 1, 2006. He was last seen on surveillance video outside the Ugly Tuna Saloona on the South Campus Gateway at 1:55 that morning. One of the last people to see Shaffer that night was William “Clint” Florence, one of Shaffer’s best friends.

Attorney Neil Rosenberg represents Florence, who has refused at least two requests to take polygraph tests during the investigation of Shaffer’s disappearance. Florence is the only person who has refused to take a polygraph, said Kevin Miles, director of the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.

Private investigator Don Corbett, who has worked on the case for free for the Shaffer family, said Florence refused his request to take a polygraph as recently as last September. Corbett said Florence also refused a police request to take a polygraph soon after Shaffer went missing. The Columbus Division of Police did not respond to phone calls last week seeking comment about Florence’s refusal to take a polygraph.

In the e-mail he sent to Corbett on Sept. 22, 2008, Rosenberg said: “If Brian is alive, which is what I’m led to believe after speaking with the detective involved, then it is Brian, and not Clint who is causing his family pain and hardship. Brian should come forward and end this.”

Rosenberg said last week in a phone interview that as far as he is concerned the case is closed, and he declined to comment about the investigation or the e-mail he sent to Corbett.

In an e-mail last week, Florence said: “While I appreciate any effort in trying to determine what happened to Brain [sic] that night, I must decline your request. ANY and ALL questions you have for me should be directed to my attorney, Neil Rosenberg.”

Florence, 32, works for the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Vanderbilt University Medical School, where he is a postdoctoral fellow, according to a Vanderbilt Web site.

Corbett said he doesn’t know which detective Rosenberg was referring to in the e-mail. However, he believes it is one of three men at Columbus Police: detective Andre Edwards of the Physical Child Abuse Section, Sgt. John Hurst of the Physical Abuse Section and Deputy Chief Antone Lanata of the Investigative Subdivision.

All three did not respond to repeated requests last week for an interview about whether they told Rosenberg they believe Shaffer is still alive.

Rosenberg also said in his e-mail to Corbett that, “The only burning issue with the authorities remains Clint’s refusal to be polygraphed. That decision was based on my recommendation and advise [sic] to Clint, not because he is, has been misleading or has something to hide, but that he simply has nothing new to tell and was totally up front and honest with them from the beginning. As far as Clint is concerned, this matter is closed.”

In a telephone interview Friday, Meredith Reed, a friend of both Shaffer and Florence who was with them that night, said she took and passed a polygraph about a month after Shaffer disappeared.

She said she assumes the Columbus Police asked her to take the test.

In fact, everyone who was asked to take a polygraph passed it, Miles said.

But not everyone who knew Brian or who had seen him the night he went missing was asked to take a polygraph.

The last time Shaffer was seen on surveillance video outside the Ugly Tuna Saloona he was with two women, Brightan Zatko and Amber Ruic. Ruic said in a phone interview Friday that she was never asked to take a polygraph.

Brian’s brother, Derek, is the last surviving member of the immediate family. His father, Randy, died on Sept. 14, 2008, when a tree limb fell on him outside his house during a windstorm. Derek’s mother died of cancer three weeks before Brian went missing.

In a phone interview last week, Derek Shaffer said he was not asked to take a polygraph but that his father took and passed one. Derek Shaffer also said he thinks it’s odd that Clint has refused to take any polygraphs.

“As soon as the detective started getting involved, that’s when he pretty much had no contact with anybody,” Derek Shaffer said. “I’ve always thought he definitely knows something – just won’t come forward with it.

“If Brian did take off somewhere, if that is the case, we just always had a strong feeling that Clint would possibly know that.”

Shaffer’s girlfriend at the time, Alexis Waggoner, also thinks Florence knows something he doesn’t want to tell. But her opinion regarding Shaffer’s whereabouts now is different than Derek’s.

“I don’t think he’s alive,” Waggoner said. “I can’t imagine he would have just done that.”

Alexis Waggoner’s father, Tom Waggoner, participated in the search for Shaffer in 2006. During that period he became acquainted with Florence.

“The gist of my perspective on Clint Florence is that I think that basically all roads to making any progress on the case on Brian Shaffer lead through Clint Florence,” Tom Waggoner said.

There is still a $25,500 reward for information leading to Shaffer’s whereabouts, Miles and Corbett said last week.


Drew Sullivan can be reached at [email protected]

37 comments

  1. eMy thoughts have always been with thinking brians ftiend clint florence surly was in on this i think the two girls brian was talking to was set up by florence i also think that florence was very jealous of brian havng everything a great family a wonderful girlfriend and a great future as a doctor if florence didnt acually do the job because he knew gbeing so close to brian they would follow up on his where abouts so he hired two girls if i remember right brian was never seen walking back into the bar if the camera shows him outside the bar and never coming out is because he never went back in i think someone off camera got his attention after talking with the women there wasa third and maybe fouth person in on this whole scam to get brian out of the picture has anybody checked on florences cash flow around the time of brians dissapence did he get a loan or take any large sums out of his bank account i can say this i am almost certain that atleast most of this theorycis true.
    Thank You
    Linda Little Avon indiana

  2. Felt I should post and say that I grew up with Clint and there is no way he had anything to do with this disappearance. He has also been officially cleared as a person of interest.

    • I think it’s very unkind of Mr. Florence not to submit to a polygraph test, as this would remove the stress of wondering if he knows something and he won’t share from his family.

    • People have said that about the worst killers of our times, a psychopath has a way of creating an image of a great person when it serves him or her.

  3. I have been reviewing this case recently and wondered if its possible that Brian accidentally went out through the door to the construction site, and that in his impaired condition he tripped on something in there and hit his head, and the construction workers found him dead the next morning and quietly disposed of the body so they wouldn’t get sued. Is this a possibility?

  4. okay if hes so inncent why did he refuse repeatedly on taking a lie detector test i wait patiently why u explain this to me!

  5. okay if hes so inncent why did he refuse repeatedly on taking a lie detector test i wait patiently why u explain this to me! and Bill i seriously dought that would of happened because im sure they had caution and beware signs in the appropriate places.

  6. Clint Florence should have been made to take a polygraph test. Simply based on his refusal to take one and his statement that he “considers the matter closed” leads me to strongly believe he knows something. I guess next time someone decides to murder someone or commit a crime, they can just refuse to take a polygraph, tell the cops “I feel that this matter is closed” and go on their merry way.

    • No case is ever closed really – EVER !!!!

    • I’m not sure why people seem to think that passing/failing a polygraph test has any basis in determining a persons guilt or innocence. If polygraphs were an undeniable way of finding out the truth then they would be used as more than just novelty act by lawyers.
      Florence has nothing to gain by taking the polygraph. Since the results depend on whoever is administering the test, then there is a major risk that he could fail, then viewed/harassed as a suspect, only to find out years later that the results of the polygraph were mistakenly read/determined.

      • More people need to read your comment, this is so true. It’s ridiculous to assume guilt because he won’t take a polygraph. The “theories” on here are so baseless and idiotic.

  7. Clint Florence and friends were big into the coke scene. Clint’s family was wealthy. Drugs were involved, cops were paid off? How close am I?

  8. He’s In The Connstruction Site…Fell in a Crevice…and was Constructed Over Undetected by the Workers. They Need to Dismantle the Site and LooK…He’s there!

  9. http://www.vidocq.org/

    I saw a CRIME STORY episode years ago, on UK television, where the father contacted the above group when the investigation by the cops had stalled into his sons death!

  10. Polygraph tests are not reliable tests of guilt or innocence. Innocent people have been tripped up by their responses, while guilty people have sailed through. It’s no more irrational to refuse a polygraph than it is to refuse witch dunking, and for the same reasons.

  11. Crazy how this Joey LaBute story that just happened this past weekend in the short north reminds me of this case.

  12. It is crazy how exactly 10 years to the month of Brian’s disappearance, Joey LaBute goes missing almost the same way… It’s very ironic

  13. So we have Brian Shaffer and now Joey LaBute……is there another Ariel Castro in Cbus?

  14. Check out David Paulides and Missing 411 as well as Urban Disappearances on YouTube they are also in book form. David discusses Brian’s case. David is former law enforcement officer.

  15. I wonder what kind of cash flow Brian had at this time? Did he receive some insurance money after his mother’s death that would have allowed him financially the ability to start a new life if this theory is true? Perhaps he had some cash stashed? Personally, I am concerned of foul play. I had mentioned to my friend that when I first heard of missing Joey LeBuke-I thought that it wasn’t too far from where a medical student from OSU went missing—when I saw it was the anniversary as well I just felt sick. Something strange about the age,male, time of night, time of year/season and even looks. Both very handsome young dark haired smaller to medium build men.

  16. I think that these cases need to be solved and better surveilance cameras should be employed by clubs and bars. If this is the second time it has happened within the same city in the same parameters, then there must be someone who is following and murdering men.Maybe the cases are not related (Shaeffer, Labute) but surely someone must have seen something happening. Anywhere people congregate–should be safe and these places need to invest in better cameras.

  17. He is hidden in the construction site.

    • It’s like he spontaneously disappeared…this case is truly baffling and should have possible resources exhausted. As for the polygraph, it doesn’t admit guilt, but refusing one does hurt the family as it takes away from solidarity

  18. Hmm so this case has always interested me but nowhere have I ever heard or seen that they’ve counted the number of people entering and leaving the ugly tuna saloona. In fact, I have heard the alleged theories that he put on a different cap and jacket to “disappear” but why hasn’t a detective just started from the beginning, put the security footage on FF and counted the people? Further, everything seems to say that he wasn’t spotted leaving when the bar closed. Did the security camera footage stop then? Don’t the workers have to clean up? Wouldn’t they have left at least some time later? What if someone was passed out in the bathroom? Isn’t it possible that it would be at least a good while after the last of the main crowd left that they would leave ? I’d assume, and hope, the footage from the whole day was reviewed, analyzed, and numbers were counted, even well after the place allegedly closed.

  19. What if someone working at the bar killed him/had someone kill him because maybe Brian said something or started something with someone? They probably took him out after the footage in a concealed manner, maybe along with construction materials. Whoever killed Brian might have had an in with the cops, paid them off to keep quiet, where particular footage wasn’t shown and evidence of foul play was not revealed. Very unlikely someone would just vanish like that O.o

  20. he is still alive living in Cleveland he was abducted by aliens

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