When Brandon Crisp stormed out of his house on October 13th following a family argument, he must have seemed like so many other teenagers. It’s a simple fact of life: 15-year-olds occasionally have stormy relationships with their parents. But, upon leaving, Brandon’s life took a uniquely disturbing turn.
Two weeks later the young man remains missing. No one has seen or heard from him – at least, no one who’s talking about it. Intensive search efforts by police and local volunteers have failed to locate the slightly built gamer.
At this point the best hope of tracing Brandon may lie with a forensic analysis of his Xbox 360 hard drive as well as server logs for Microsoft’s Xbox Live online gaming service.
Brandon’s distraught parents have largely focused on the role of online gaming in his life, a role which they say had become pervasive. His father, Steve Crisp, has at various points blamed game addiction, Call of Duty 4, and online game tournaments.
But let’s put all of that aside for a moment and analyze the possibilities:
1.) Brandon was lured & kidnapped by someone he met online: – While his parents have suggested that Brandon may have met up with a pedophile, a predatory member of a gaming clan, or, less plausibly, "organized crime or someone involved in Internet gambling," these possiblities seem remote. Here’s why:
- By all accounts Brandon’s leaving on October 13th was precipitated by his father’s confiscation of his Xbox 360 as a disciplinary measure. Mr. Crisp had taken the console before, but this time it was said to be permanent.
- That being the case, Brandon would not have been able to use Xbox Live’s messaging system to contact anyone via the service.
- It’s unknown whether the circumstances at home that day would have allowed him to use his PC for this purpose. Police seized the computer but have not said what, if anything, was discovered.
- Moreover, there was not a great deal of time for a predator to plan an abduction of Brandon. The boy left the house as a result of the family argument, not in response to a meeting initiated by a predator.
- Also hampering such communication, as GP has learned from Barrie Police, is the fact that Brandon did not have a mobile phone. Thus, if he was unable to contact anyone before he left his house, it’s unlikely that he would have been able to make a call after leaving.
- Any potential predator would likely have had to live nearby and Brandon would have had to initiate their meeting. Barrie, where Brandon lives, is roughly 90km north of Toronto. It is not exactly a metropolis and while an online predator from another country, say, the USA, could theoretically have flown in to Toronto and driven a rental car up to Barrie, that would leave a paper trail a mile wide for investigators. Spiriting Brandon through Customs and out of Canada would have been challenging, to say the least.
- CONCLUSION: Given the circumstances, unlikely
2.) Brandon is staying with a friend
- Brandon seemed to have a destination in mind when he left home. His bike was recovered about 8 km northeast of his home, so he was heading in that direction. Before leaving he asked his mother for directions to semi-rural Oro-Medonte Township, also to the northeast. His father said that Brandon has friends there with whom he games on XBL.
- However, Brandon’s case has generated enormous publicity throughout Canada. It would seem difficult for a teenage friend to hide him from parents who have been alerted to the case for that long of a time.
- It would be unlikely for this to remain a secret among a group of teens for anything close to two weeks.
- Moreover, police have told the media that Brandon, a Call of Duty devotee, has not logged onto his XBL account.
- CONCLUSION: Possible, but unlikely
3.) Brandon ran away and then was randomly abducted along the way
- This is a difficult scenario to assess, due to the sheer randomness involved.
- On one hand, at 5’3" 100 pounds, Brandon is a slightly built young man; he likely could have been overpowered by a determined adult predator.
- He was last seen on foot in what is described as a semi-rural area, so a predator might have seen and seized an opportunity.
- On the other hand, Barrie is not that big of a place. Canada’s 35th largest city has 128,000 residents. At that size, police would probably have something of a handle on known pedophile suspects and would presumably be checking their alibis.
- CONCLUSION: Possible, but unlikely.
4.) Brandon ran away and somehow became incapacitated along the way
- Brandon left home at 3 p.m. on October 13th. At this time of year he would have had about three hours of daylight.
- His bike apparently broke down a short way into the trip. After that he was on foot, in the dark, in a semi-rural area, alone, without food or a mobile phone, and perhaps feeling unwanted
- He could have become injured in some way and unable to call for help
- CONCLUSION: Possible
5.) Brandon ran away and is hiding out nearby on his own
- The area where Brandon’s bike was found was described by his father as "a very high-end area of Barrie where there are multi-million-dollar cottages owned by [people] who only use them two or three months a year."
- It is possible that Brandon took shelter in a vacant vacation home, although it is logical to assume that police have been checking those locations in the course of their search operation.
- It is also very unlikely for a 15-year-old to hold out on his own for so long
- CONCLUSION: Possible, but unlikely
6.) Brandon is on the run
- Runaways tend to gravitate toward big cities where they often live on the streets
- Toronto is 90km to the south of Brandon’s home
- CONCLUSION: Possible
Anyone with information concerning Brandon should contact the Barrie Police Service: (705)725-7025 A $50,000 reward has been posted.
GP: What do you think, GamePolitics readers?