Episode 106

Missing in Texas

September 6, 2021   Tags: , ,
Apple Podcasts
This week Paul and Billy are joined by Kate Winkler Dawson to discuss two missing person cases in Texas. Brandon Lawson left home after an argument on August 8th, 2013. He called for help after his truck ran out of gas, but when assistance arrived he was gone. Brian Vargo left the University of Texas at Austin sometime after March 9th, 1976, and hasn't been heard from since. 

The Disappearance of Brandon Lawson:
Before August 2013, Brandon Lawson was in recovery from his drug addiction. He hadn’t used drugs in 6 months or so.  But this changed in early August. On the night of August 7th, Brandon didn’t come home. When he finally showed up on August 8th, he and Ladessa had a fight. She was angry he didn’t come home and that he was using drugs again. 

Brandon decided he needed to leave the house to cool down. The next two hours were documented on Brandon’s cell phone records. At 11:54 PM, he called his dad who lived in Crowley--close to Fort Worth. He thought that would be the best place to cool off. 

At 12 midnight, Ladessa then called Brandon. She wanted him to come home or go to his brother Kyle’s house instead of driving the three hours.  Ladessa then went and plugged her phone into the van because Brandon had taken their plug charger. 

At 12:34 Brandon tried to call Ladessa. He tried again at 12:36 and 12:38. There was no answer because she didn’t have her phone on her. After Ladessa didn’t answer his call, Brandon called his brother Kyle.

Kyle picked up. Brandon told his brother he needed gas. He was on the desolate two-lane highway of US-277 almost to Bronte, Texas. He also told his brother people were chasing him. Initially Kyle thought his brother was on drugs and asked him if he was hallucinating. Brandon said he wasn’t. 

He stopped by Brandon’s house and picked up the gas can. Then he and his girlfriend and son began the drive to where Brandon’s truck was parked. Kyle was taking the empty gas can to the truck because he couldn’t afford to fill it that night. But he knew he could pick Brandon up and then Brandon would pay to fill it. 

While waiting for Kyle to arrive, Brandon called 911 at 12:50 AM. The call is hard to understand.

He told the dispatcher he was in the middle of the field. It sounds like he mentions another car being present. It also sounds like someone was hit. During the call Brandon does expressly ask for the cops to come to his location.

Kyle finally arrived at his brother’s truck around 1:10 AM. 

The truck wasn’t damaged. Brandon’s keys and cellphone weren’t in the truck. Shortly after Kyle pulled up, so did a Coke County Sheriff Deputy. Chief Deputy Brandon Neal was reporting to the abandoned vehicle call. 

He asked Kyle if he was the caller. Kyle said he wasn’t. He told the officer he was going to get gas and then move the car. While Kyle was standing with Deputy Neal, he received a phone call from Brandon at 1:15 AM.

The call was going in and out. But Brandon said he was in the field and that he could see his brother. It’s also thought during this call Brandon told his brother he was bleeding, but this may have been in an earlier call.  

Kyle says Brandon had told him to run from law enforcement by saying, “One time, run.” Which was some sort of code they had, to well, run. Kyle didn’t and Brandon said, “Where is your pride, mother fucker?” Then Brandon hung up. It was the last time anyone heard his voice. 

At 1:18 AM, Kyle’s girlfriend texted Brandon “ A cop is at your truck.” A minute later all calls went to voicemail. Kyle left the gas can in the back of Brandon’s truck. Deputy Neal locked it up and planned for it to be towed in the morning. He then drove up and down the road looking for Brandon. 

Kyle waited at least a half hour after Deputy Neal was gone, hoping his brother would leave the field and come to the truck. He didn’t.

The Disappearance of Brian Vargo:
The spring semester of 1976 at the University of Texas at Austin wasn't going well. Brian Vargo took a trip home at the end of January until February 2nd. When he got back to school, he quit going to some of his classes. Brian told his family and friends he felt “unfocused.”  He wanted to find himself. He told no one, but he applied for withdrawal from school. 

On March 9th, the dean approved Brian’s withdrawal. The form included plans for Brian to re-enter school that summer. This is the last day there is a confirmed location for Brian. 

According to some of his friends, he planned to go to Colorado to find himself. At some point he went by his parents to pick up his car’s title, but no one knows on which date that was. Then when they hadn’t seen or heard from him for a few days, his roommates called his parents. 

His parents tried to report him missing. But they were advised against it and told that he could disappear if he wanted to. 

The Austin Police believe that Brian Vargo left for Colorado the day his withdrawal came through. While on his way, the car broke down. The police believe Brian was planning on selling his car, which is why he got the title from the home. 

One source said Brian’s car was at a mechanic’s to be worked on. According to that source, the mechanic called the family to settle the car. The man said the car had been broken into. But even with this slight lead, the car was never returned. 

Brian’s family were asked to come by June 1st--the end of the Spring semester--to collect Brian’s belongings. Brian’s sister went to pack up his things. Inside his room was his wallet and a newspaper dated March 9th. 

The family have consolidated Brian’s things since his disappearance into two boxes. The boxes contain everything from his watch, random coins, ribbons he won during childhood, his high school ID, and his library card.

Brian Vargo was officially reported missing in February 2021. His family has entered DNA into NAMUS and are awaiting the results. 

We brought you two missing cases from the state of Texas.  Brandon Lawson was 26 years old when he disappeared on August 8th, 2013. He was 5’9” and 230 pounds. He has blue eyes and brown hair. He often kept it short and spiked in the front. He has tattoos on his back, chest, neck and arms. He also has a scar on his chin and left knee. He was wearing a yellow shirt, camo shorts and white 2013 Air Max shoes the night he vanished.

Brian Vargo disappeared sometime after March 9th, 1976. He was either in Austin or Houston before he vanished--it’s unclear. He was 20-years-old at the time of his disappearance. He would now be 65 years old, and we will be posting an age progression photo. 

At the time he was 6 feet, 150 pounds. He had brown hair and hazel eyes. Brian had a chipped front tooth. He walked with his feet pointed out to the side. 

If you have information, please contact us.


1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.