|This case has remained unsolved for 22 years, 7 months, and 26 days.|
In 2001, Branson Perry was a 20-year-old living in Skidmore, Missouri (MO). He had graduated high school a few years earlier and although he had some run-ins with the drug world, he was working odd jobs and living with his father.
It was April 11, 2001 and Perry was trying to tidy up the home he shared with his father, Bob. Bob was in the hospital and was due to return soon, so Perry wanted to make sure the place was clean before his father returned. He recruited a friend to help him clean up the place and they were finishing up when Perry headed outside to the family shed to put away some jumper cables.
And that’s it. Perry hasn’t been seen since. No trace of him has ever confirmed, nor have his remains been located.
Several years after Perry’s disappearance, a man was arrested on unrelated charges. The suspect had some troubling postings online, a few detailing the assault and murder a young man matching Perry’s description. However, that man has never been charged with Perry’s disappearance or murder, and there are no definitive answers as to what happened to him.
Over 20 years later, Perry’s close family is gone, but others are still demanding answers. What happened to Branson Perry?
Table of Contents
About Branson Perry
Branson Perry was born on February 24, 1981 in Skidmore, MO. He graduated from Nodaway-Holt High School in 1999 and worked some odd jobs after that. Although Perry had tachycardia (a condition that affected his heart rate), he still was active and participated in a form of martial arts called hapkido, earning a black belt in the sport. He also was a weightlifter.
According to a close family member, Perry was compassionate and loved nature. He especially enjoyed camping, and most of his family didn’t know about his involvement in drugs. He also was reportedly trying to get clean around the time of his disappearance, so he was trying to get back on the straight and narrow.
The Day of the Disappearance
In April 2001, Perry lived with his father, Bob Perry, in Skidmore. By this time, his parents had divorced. His father had just ended up in the hospital but was due to come home shortly. Perry wanted to make sure the house was clean before his father’s return, so he asked a friend to come and help him tidy up.
April 11, 2001: The Disappearance
After recruiting his friend to help him, Perry began tidying up the home. At the time, two other men were at the home working on Bob’s car as it had a broken alternator. It isn’t clear who called them to the home to have them repair the car.
Around 3:00 PM, Perry told his friend that he was going to head outside and return some jumper cables to the shed next to the house. It should have only taken a minute or two to do this, but Perry never came back inside. In fact, no one has seen Perry since this time.
In a later letter written by Perry’s mother about the day of the disappearance, she elaborated:
“[Perry’s friend] asked [Perry] where he was going and he told her he was going to put the jumper cables in the storage shed and would be right back. She never saw him again. The men that had been working on the car claim to have never seen him. No one saw him.”Perry’s Mother (Source: America’s Most Wanted Casefiles)
Reportedly, the friend thought that Perry had gotten sidetracked with something else after putting the cables away so, after she finished what she was working on, she left the home. It also ended up that Bob was released from the hospital several days later than was planned, so no one immediately noticed that Perry was missing.
April 12, 2001: Still No Perry
Perry’s grandmother stopped by the home and found its condition odd; it was unlocked and no one was home. The radio had been left on. She attempted to make contact with Perry over the next few days, but was unable to reach him by phone.
Reaching out to Perry’s mother, the grandmother asked if she knew where he was, but the mother hadn’t spoken to him either.
April 17, 2001: Days Gone By
After Bob was released from the hospital and still no one had seen any signs of Perry, a missing persons report was filed on April 17. It’s not clear why the family waited six days to file the reports, but perhaps they were hoping that Perry would turn up. It also might not have been too out of the ordinary for him to go missing for days at a time if he was involved with drugs.
The Search Begins
Law enforcement was a bit behind due to the length of time between the last time anyone had seen Perry (April 11) and when the missing persons report was filed (April 17). Because so much time had passed with no signs of him, they took the report seriously and immediately began searching the surrounding area.
At first, Bob (Perry’s father) thought that his son might’ve gone to Kansas City and, since Perry didn’t have a working car at the time, he thought his son might’ve hitchhiked. However, Perry’s wallet was found at the home and it would have been unusual for him to leave home without it.
Nearby Areas Searched
Authorities thought that perhaps Perry had ended up stuck somewhere like an old well and wasn’t able to get out. His grandmother said, “Around town, we searched every oil well, every outside toilet. We searched everywhere that was possible for us to think that something could be there.” No evidence was found, though, nor was Perry.
Possible Drug Connections
Over one hundred people were interviewed regarding Perry’s disappearance. Most of all, authorities wanted to speak with Perry’s friend who was with him on the day he disappeared. The friend stated that Perry had been experimenting with numerous drugs including marijuana, amphetamines, and Valium.
According to a family member, Perry was set to enter a drug rehabilitation program shortly after he went missing. He’d told his aunt that he wanted to “get clean” and was attempting to get his life back on track.
Other drug acquaintances were interviewed, but they reportedly stated they hadn’t seen Perry and ended up passing polygraph examinations. The only leads that were gained were that Perry might’ve owed some drug dealers money.
Disappearing and Reappearing Jumper Cables?
In order to verify the friend’s story, Bob checked the shed for the jumper cables that Perry had supposedly put back in there. No jumper cables were found, though, according to Perry’s mother. They mysteriously reappeared two weeks later just inside the door to the shed.
Why the jumper cables were missing from the shed in the first place and how they got back into the shed weeks later is still up for debate. No witnesses have admitted to returning the cables.
An Arrest Made (Several Years Later)
In April 2003, authorities announced the arrest of Jack Wayne Rogers on charges of first-degree assault and practicing medicine without a license. Although this doesn’t sound related to Branson Perry’s disappearance at first, the details in this case help tie the cases together.
Who Was Jack Wayne Rogers?
At the time of his arrest, Jack Wayne Rogers was a 59-year-old Presbyterian minister and Boy Scout Leader. Instead of being a pillar of the community however, he turned out to be a horrible predator.
Law enforcement found child pornography on his electronic devices during the course of their investigation, along with various posts on message boards that described in graphic detail the torture, assault, and murder of multiple men.
In one of the posts, Rogers detailed that he’d picked up a blonde male hitchhiker, then assaulted, tortured, and murdered him. The body was reportedly left buried somewhere in the Ozarks. Authorities believed that the man Rogers was referring to in the post was indeed Branson Perry, although Rogers denied ever seeing Perry.
More Evidence, But Not Enough
Additional evidence pointing to the idea that Rogers had indeed murdered Perry was found at Rogers’ property in the form of a turtle claw necklace that resembled one Perry had owned.
Unfortunately, this was still not enough to charge Rogers with anything relating to Perry’s disappearance. Missouri Highway Patrol spokesperson Chris Ricks said, “Because of the anonymity of the Internet, people have a tendency to exaggerate or to just out and out lie.” Even though the post that Rogers made online sounded just like Perry, that still wasn’t enough evidence to charge him. However, Rogers still went to trial on the other charges against him.
Rogers ended up being convicted of the charges in April 2004 and is to serve 30 years without parole. However, he was only convicted of the performing illegal surgery and child pornography charges — not the assault and murder of Branson Perry.
At the sentencing hearing, Perry’s mother begged Rogers to reveal the location of Perry’s remains, but again Rogers denied any involvement the murder. Perry’s mother wrote:
“The numerous searches still did not reveal any concrete evidence that they could charge [Rogers] for murder with. He consistently denies having ever had contact with my son and claims the logs were only fantasy.”Perry’s Mother (Source: America’s Most Wanted Casefiles)
Later, Perry’s mother admits to no longer believing that Rogers was responsible for her son’s murder: “In my heart, I don’t believe this suspect is responsible.”
Theories on What Happened
Unlike some cases where the theories on what happened are endless, this case really only has three: Rogers killed Perry, someone in the drug scene killed Perry, or Perry left on his own. Usually in disappearance cases, there are plenty of plausible theories and even some crazy theories put out there. In Perry’s case, not so much.
Rogers Killed Perry
From the case of US v. Jack Wayne Rogers, there was a lot of troubling information that came to light:
“The evidence also included Internet “chat logs” in which Rogers discussed methods of torturing and mutilating children and bragged that he once abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered a blonde-haired boy from Skidmore, Missouri.”US v. Jack Wayne Rogers (Source: US v. Jack Wayne Rogers, 2005)
There was also the evidence of the turtle claw necklace that was found on Rogers’s property that was similar to one that Perry owned. It’s not clear if this was ever confirmed to be Perry’s, though.
Rogers has never been charged in the death of Perry, nor is he likely to be based off the evidence that is available to us. Some chat logs and a necklace that may or may not have belonged to a potential victim is not enough evidence to build a murder trial over.
Perry’s mother also thought that someone else did something to her son, as she wrote in a letter:
“[Rogers] has been the prime suspect for several years. The police are not completely ruling him out, but now the investigation has turned towards Skidmore again. They have received new leads there. I suppose time has a way of unraveling secrets. I believe someone in that area knows what happened to Branson.”Perry’s Mother (Source: America’s Most Wanted Casefiles)
A Drug-Related Disappearance
Some news sources state that there is a new suspect in Perry’s disappearance, but that there isn’t enough information to make an arrest. This suspect is supposedly from the Skidmore area and involved in the drug scene, hence the possible connection to Perry. However, making an arrest is difficult with so little evidence pointing in any direction in Perry’s case.
Perry’s aunt stated that there are people who know what happened, but they’re afraid to come forward. “People don’t want to come forward. Their lives are going to be in danger if they know who did it,” she told a news source in 2022.
Perry Left on His Own
The final theory is that Perry left on his own to start a new life. This seems possible, although unlikely. Perry didn’t take his wallet with him when he left, so he would have had no access to any money or cards he had in it. He also didn’t pack a bag or take anything else, as far as family members could tell.
However, he had told some of his family members that he was about to head to a rehab program, so he could’ve used this as an excuse for why he disappeared. Still, it seems odd that Perry would have spent the day before he was to disappear cleaning up the house he and his father resided in.
What Do I Think Happened?
I think this case’s two most likely theories are that either Rogers killed Perry or one of Perry’s drug acquaintances had something to do with his disappearance.
Either way, I believe that he is no longer with us and has likely been gone for a long time, probably since the day he went missing. Even Perry’s remaining family members and friends acknowledge that he is likely dead.
Rogers Possibly Picked Up Perry
Given the heinous nature of Rogers’s online postings and the content that he was convicted of having, it’s entirely possible that Perry had been trying to find a ride out of Skidmore when Rogers picked him up as a hitchhiker. The details in the case file about how Rogers referred to a young blonde man from Skidmore certainly seem to fit Perry’s description, even if Rogers denies any involvement in the case.
The other likely explanation was that Perry’s sudden disappearance was the result of his involvement in the drug scene. As some investigators have stated, this theory is difficult to prove without a body. Perry reportedly owed some drug dealers money at the time he disappeared, so perhaps that’s the real explanation for why he went missing.
That being said, there is no evidence pointing to a drug-related homicide, but it seems like the only other plausible explanation for why an otherwise healthy 20-year-old simply vanished.
Over twenty years later, there are still no arrests in the case, no answers for the remaining family and friends who are still wondering where Perry went. Someone out there knows something about his disappearance and it’s time for them to come forward.
Like so many cases that have been going on for several decades, the updates are few and far between, and mostly sad in nature. There have been some attempts to get the story out there again via the media and though some of the stories were aired, no pointed information came from them leading to the location of Branson Perry.
2004: Perry’s Father Dies
Perry’s father passed away in 2004 before he could ever find out what had happened to his son.
June 2009: Excavation in Quitman, MO
Authorities excavated a site in Quitman, MO after they got a tip that Perry’s remains might’ve been buried there. Unfortunately, nothing of note was found at the site.
July 2010: America’s Most Wanted
In July 2010, Perry’s case was featured on an episode of America’s Most Wanted. The family was hoping that the publicity might lead to additional tips and information as to where Perry might be, but unfortunately, no new information came from the airing. Perry’s mother stated in a letter to America’s Most Wanted:
“I have never been a person to ask for much. I am asking, pleading, even begging for your help in finding my son or finding out what happened to him. I need for this nightmare to end. It is a roller coaster that doesn’t ever stop.”Perry’s Mother (Source: America’s Most Wanted Casefiles)
February 2011: Perry’s Mother Dies
After a long battle with melanoma, Perry’ mother passed away in February 2011. She never was able to find out what happened to her son.
August 2019: No One Saw a Thing
In August 2019, Perry’s case was featured on the series No One Saw a Thing. It’s not clear if any new leads came from the airing.
Do You Have Information?
There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to the location of Branson Perry. At the time of his disappearance, Perry was 20 years old, about 5’8 and 140 lbs. He has blonde hair and blue eyes and has a small scar on his right cheek and one on his left knee. If you have information, please contact the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office at (660) 582–7451.
Cold Case Questions
- What do you think happened to Perry?
- What do you make of the disappearing and reappearing jumper cables?
- Do you think Perry’s case will ever be solved?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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