Parents of northwest Arkansas man missing since 2020 seeking closure to frustrating cold case
Updated: May 31, 2022
June 24, 2020, was a harrowing day for Shelley and Darrell Barron, who live in a rural area between Strickler and Hogeye in northwest Arkansas. The couple not only had medical appointments for Shelley to deal with, but they also had become aware of death threats their son, 34-year-old Brandon, had made against Darrell the night before.
Brandon, who had been in and out of trouble with the law, experienced mental health problems, and was facing a court date out of Washington County for possession of controlled substances, also had health issues requiring him to take his medications regularly.
Darrell, given Brandon's mental condition, things he was involved with, and his fear of what his son might be capable of, says he and Shelley finally came to the decision that Brandon could no longer live in the family home on ten acres in rural Washington County.
Following that decision, Brandon had gone homeless in both Washington and Sebastian counties and, as his father described, was getting by "couch hopping" with his friends and acquaintances...until he wore out his welcome. He also lived with his sister for a while....until he wore out his welcome.
We pulled a "wagon" that contained all his possessions. He "lived" wherever he could park his wagon and stay a few days.
There were drug-related arrests in two counties. When Brandon was released from Sebastian County after one arrest, Darrell drove down, got him, and brought him back to northwest Arkansas.
"Brandon wanted to do drugs, and his sister just wouldn't tolerate it," said Darrell. "He even got locked out of one place he was renting after they found out he had been cooking meth."
He left the medical facility after a few days.
Now, in his ongoing battles against the voices in his head, he had declared his intention to kill Darrell.
"He said he had a 'golden ear' and could hear voices...people on cell phones and random conversations," said Darrell. "It was all a part of his mental issues."
On that fateful June morning, the couple had to travel to Fayetteville for a medical appointment for Shelley. Despite the disturbing statements from their son, and having to talk to police that morning, they were trying to deal with their own issues and headed north to go to the clinic.
Arriving at the clinic, Darrell realized he had left his cell phone at home. Because the phone had texts and messages they needed to show law enforcement, he left Shelley at the clinic for her appointments and headed back to get his phone.
When Darrell arrived back at the house, Brandon's wagon sat in the driveway.
Concerned that Brandon might be coming back to the homestead to make good on his threat, he called Washington County Sheriff Deputies to check out the house and property.
Brandon was nowhere to be found. The Washington County deputies cleared the house and the land. He went back to Fayetteville, picked up Shelley and they went by the sheriff office to file involuntary commitment papers on their son.
On the way back home, they passed Brandon who was walking towards Fayetteville without his wagon. He was just past the Hogeye Mall. Without slowing or stopping, they continued down the road towards home.
They're not sure if Brandon recognized them as they drove by.
To this day, Darrell and Shelley think they were the last persons to see him when they passed him on that lonely stretch of Highway 265.
It's like Brandon has vanished from the face of the earth.
"The worse part is that you just don't know," said Shelley. "Did he take off, did something happen to him, is he in hiding? You just don't know."
The Barron's have looked. They contacted a number of friends and talked to ex-police officers and current law enforcement officials. On Monday, Darrell and a friend searched the ten acres around the house, They are working with a local police organization to bring out cadaver dogs to search the area where he was last seen.
Along with the heartbreak of having to endure a missing loved one, the couple is also facing the schemers and scammers that come along with such tragedies. On the week of Mother's Day this year, they encountered their first one after a local television station ran a piece about Brandon.
"I paid out $70 to one individual through a phone app for information", said Darrel. "He told us that Brandon had been killed and buried behind a business in Prairie Grove....later, he called back and said for another $30 he would give me the names of the people who had killed Brandon."
Darrell paid the money. The names, as well as the Prairie Grove information, proved to be a red herring. Or a scam.
"We just need to find our son, " Shelley said. "We have kind of accepted that something may have happened to him, but he is still our son and despite everything, we still love him."
As you can see from the photos posted on the "Charley Project", Brandon can change his physical appearance. He stands 5’11 and weighs 185 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.
"It's coming up on two years", said Shelley. "He has been put into NAMUS and a bunch of other national databases and numerous law enforcement agencies has all of his information."
"Given his issues and interactions with the police, you would think after all this time, if he is still out there, someone would have had contact with him," said Darrell. "We just need some closure one way or another."
Shelley and Darrell encourage anyone who knows anything about Brandon to contact Washington County Sheriff’s Detective Andrew Morris at 479-444-5700.