SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) Ms. Brandi Ellen Wells has been missing since 2006.
She went missing from Tyler at the age of 23. Currently, she would be 36.
“If somebody does have her, are they taking care of her?” Brandi Wells’ mother Ellen Tant asked in 2006. “I’m not going to give up until I find my child.”
Tant’s message still echoes 14 years later.
“There’s a very good chance she’s still alive out there,” Tant says today. “And, I don’t want to give up on her until I know for sure.”
On the night of August 2, 2006, Wells was seen leaving Graham Central Station in Longview. Just a few hours later, her car was found alongside Interstate 20.
“But, they didn’t put it together that it was Brandi’s until the following week,” Tant says. “So, it sat there for four or five days.”
What happened between those hours has left her family searching for answers.
Wells was studying to become a teacher at Trinity Valley Community College. While she lived in Brownsboro, she often visited her mother in Tyler.
“She came in, she changed clothes and said she was going to the club with some friends,” Tant says. “But, I just assumed she meant the Electric Cowboy, which was right down the road from out house.”
Her mother says she thought Wells was going to meet friends and enjoy one last night out before the Fall semester started where she would encounter a college semester full of homework, group projects and steps toward molding the next generation.
“She would’ve been a wonderful teacher. She could’ve help sculpt so many impressionable children and do great things.”Ellen Tant, Brandi’s mother
Those dreams were further from reality then they both thought. That would be the last time she would see her daughter.
It wasn’t until that next evening she knew something was wrong.
“I had started calling her phone, but it went straight to voice mail every single time,” says Tant. “It was unusual for her to not being answering her phone. So, that Friday, I called the police.”
It was then she would discover her daughter was further away from home than she knew.
“As I was talking to him, my youngest daughter came up and was listening to the conversation,” Tant says. “When I say she went to the club and he asks which club, I said the Electric Cowboy. She says, ‘no mommy, she went to Graham Central Station in Longview’.”
Wells had ventured off more than 45 minutes away in an unfamiliar town.
Officers, who were with the Longview Police Department at the time, began the investigating, starting with the surveillance tapes from the nightclub.
The surveillance footage shows Wells entering Graham Central Station, near south Longview, around 10:36 p.m. Two minutes later, she can been seen checking in at the counter.
“In the club, people told police that Brandi was asking for a couple of bucks that she could borrow for gas,” claims Tant. “She got lost a couple of times and ran out of gas.”
She was inside the club for nearly two hours. Just before 12:30 a.m., she can be seen walking by the counter and out of the front door. A man in a white cowboy hat followed behind her.
“As he walks left, you can see him look over toward Brandi,” Tant says. “You can only see Brandi’s feet at this point. You can see her walk toward him.”
It’s unknown if the man in the cowboy hat was found and questioned.
“I don’t think Brandi left the parking lot of that club by herself.”Ellent Tant
The next day, her car was found on the side of Interstate 20, near Farm-To-Market Road 2087, between Longview and Kilgore, but it would be days before police would link it to Wells.
A gas can, not belonging to Wells, was found in the trunk, and inside her car were all of her belongings, along with her ex-boyfriends cell phone. The one thing missing was her personal cell phone.
“On Brandi’s phone a week after she disappeared, you see all these phone calls one right after the other, that lasted maybe two or three minutes,” says Tant.
Police were able to find and question three men who had used her phone.
Reports say one of them failed a polygraph test, however, all three were released.
The driver’s side seat had also been adjusted for someone taller than Wells. But, with the car having been there for so long, it’s unknown if there’s a connection.
After months of trying to find Wells, the trail turned cold. Over the years, new information would come in, most notably a phone call saying Wells was alive in Kansas City. But, it turned out to be another false lead.
Wells’ mother says, despite this, she’s not giving up on her daughter.
“I always hear her in the back of my mind saying, ‘Mommy, I’m waiting for you. come get me, help me’,” says Tant. “You hear that all the time. It stays in your heart, that she knows she needs your help. And you don’t know how to help her, what to do, there’s nothing to go on. Another fear is she’s laying in someone’s fields with her bones just scattered everywhere and she deserved better than that. She deserved a burial.”
Anyone with additional information or questions regarding this case should contact the Texas Department of Public Safety, Missing Persons Clearinghouse at 512-424-5074 or 1-800-346-3243.
There are nearly 100 missing East Texans and KETK has gathered information on all their cases. To learn more, click here.