The Disappearance of Brandy Hall

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EARLY LIFE:

Brandy Hall was born on September 14, 1973. Growing up in the tight-knit community of Bull Creek, Florida, she was known as an adventurous tomboy who liked being better than her male counterparts. Described as strong and tough, with a love for hunting and fishing, the girl known to her friends as “Redneck” was the definition of a happy child.

When she was 11 years old, Brandy’s adventurous spirit put her life in danger when the three-wheel ATV she was driving up a hill fell back on her face. Upon being brought to the hospital, it was learnt her skull had been fractured and that she had broken her jaw and various areas of her cheekbones. Due to her injuries, she had to undergo a 10 to 12 hour surgery and spend a month in the hospital, before undergoing a year of home care. Her injuries from the accident led to lifelong scarring and pain, and she had to undergo more surgeries as she grew.

Despite her injuries, Brandy bounced back after the accident. It also made her realize what she wanted to do with her life: help others. As a genuinely sincere person who always put others before herself, it made sense that she would want to pursue a career as an EMT, paramedic and firefighter.

When she was 20 years old, Brandy began volunteering at the fire station in Holopaw, Florida. Whilst there, she met her husband, Jeff Hall, who had been a firefighter at the station for years. In 1994, the pair got married. While Jeff would eventually be promoted to Fire Chief of Osceola County, Brandy started a full-time position at the fire station in Palm Bay, Florida as both a firefighter and a medical technician. With an exemplary record, she was promoted to drive engineer in April 2000 and received her certification as a paramedic.

Jeff and Brandy would soon become the parents of two children, a girl named Taylor and a son named Clay. Described as a great mother by those who knew her, there was nothing Brandy loved more than caring for her kids. When both she and her husband were at work, Brandy’s mother, Debbie, would step in to help, and Brandy would always call to check in and make sure everything was okay.

On July 2, 2005, the Hall family’s life changed forever when Jeff and his friend, an ex-firefighter named Paul Hirsch, were arrested for marijuana cultivation. The pair had been growing the drug on a 13-acre lot in Holopaw that was owned by the Halls, and they had been using diesel-fuelled generators to power grow lights inside of a mobile home and barn located on the property. Over four years, large amounts of “Crippy”, a particularly potent strain of marijuana, were sold, with profits of $30,000 being made every two months.

The authorities had received a tip about the operation from an anonymous caller. Upon receiving the tip, four sheriff’s deputies entered the property without a search warrant, as nothing could be seen via air due to the property being situated in a heavily-wooded area. They noted the scent of drying marijuana as they approached both the barn and the mobile home, so left and later returned with a search warrant. That is when $70,000 in equipment was found, some of which had been bought through Brandy’s airboat business in Melbourne, Florida.

Upon their arrest, both Jeff and Hirsch were charged with trafficking marijuana, manufacturing a hallucinogen and possession with intent to sell. They both plead guilty, and Jeff argued that Brandy hadn’t been aware of the operation, saying he had told her that he’d been renting out the property. As both he and Brandy made good money – Jeff through his pension and Brandy, her wage – the earnings from the drug operation had been easy to hide. However, since Brandy’s name was also on the property’s ownership papers, she was deemed legally responsible for the activity and was arrested on July 8, 2005. While Debbie has said her daughter never visited the property, some reports state she had been aware of Jeff’s activities and had even warned him of the risk.

In December 2005, the charges against Brandy in relation to the grow-op were dropped. The only ones left standing were those for commercial littering and pollution, for which she was supposed to stand trial in October 2006. Due to her arrest, she was fired from the Palm Bay Fire Station, this after 10 years of service. Her termination is said to have devastated her.

Despite how she felt, Brandy was determined to rebound and continue making a solid income for the family. She started working odd jobs for a friend’s construction site and began to volunteer with the Malabar Fire Department in Malabar, Florida. The latter was a job she was determined to succeed at, as she didn’t want to lose her firefighting certificate, something that would have occurred if she had stayed out of the service for two years under Florida law. She was one of two female members on the squad and was described by her colleague as an excellent firefighter who was generally well liked.

LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:

On the night of August 17, 2006, Brandy was scheduled to work at the fire station, before heading to the Osceola courthouse the next day for Jeff’s sentencing hearing. At 9:30pm that night, she called the house and said prayers with her children, before spending some time chatting with her husband on the phone. While at the fire station, she was doing inventory and told her co-workers of Jeff’s court appearance, where she was to be a character witness, in the hopes of lightening his sentence. She had also enlisted the help of her former boss, Randall Richmond, and that of her current boss at the Malabar Fire Department.

An hour after hanging up with Brandy, Jeff got a call, reminding him that his court appearance had been changed to 8:00am the next day. At 11:00pm, he left a message with his lawyer and then tried to contact Brandy to inform of her the change in time. However, she didn’t answer her phone and Jeff found her voicemail to be full when he tried to leave a message.

DISAPPEARANCE:

On the morning of August 18, 2006, Jeff received a call from his lawyer, who told him not to worry about the change in time and to arrive at the courthouse around 10:00am. He tried, yet again, to call Brandy, but was unable to get ahold of her, and when he called the fire station he was told she’d already left. Upon hearing this, Jeff assumed his wife was on her way home.

Brandy didn’t show up while Jeff got the kids ready for school. He dropped them off and began heading to the Osceola courthouse, all while trying to get in contact with her. When that failed, he got ahold of her co-worker, named TJ, who told him that Brandy had left the fire station around 10:30pm the night before. This worried Jeff, as her shift had been scheduled to end at 7:00am, but he was unable to search for his wife at that moment.

When Jeff arrived at the courthouse, he inquired if any of the couple’s friends and family had seen Brandy. When none had, he hoped she’d simply gotten cold feet, as she disliked going to the courthouse. During this time, he received a call from Randall Richmond, who told him he was unable to make it to the courthouse that day. When Jeff asked if he’d seen Brandy, he abruptly hung up.

Overall, the sentencing hearing lasted approximately 30 minutes, with Jeff and Kirsch being sentenced to 18 months in jail and three years probation. As the sentence appeared to be harsher than ones given to those convicted of similar crimes, many felt the judge was trying to send a message, given the pair’s former jobs as firefighters.

As he was taken into custody, Jeff began to worry about searching for his missing wife. In support, his and Brandy’s extended family picked up the couple’s children from school and began their own search.

SEARCH:

Upon returning to the Hall house, it was determined no one had seen or heard from Brandy since she left the Malabar Fire Department the previous night. Debbie was particularly worried about this, as Jeff and her daughter hadn’t been getting along as of late due to Jeff’s drug charges. Unable to wait around, she spent the next few hours searching for Brandy, driving around Palm Bay and Malabar looking for her and her missing pickup truck.

Just before dark, Brandy’s truck was pulled out of a small retention pond, located just off Treeland Boulevard near the Palm Bay campus of Brevard Community College. Earlier in the day, a fisherman had discovered a firefighter’s bunker bag floating in the water, which contained boots, pants, a jacket and a helmet. Believing it to have been lost during a training exercise, he brought it to the local fire station, where it was determined to belong to Brandy. Concerned, firefighters converged on the scene, where they noticed broken tree branches, tire marks in the ground and an oil slick in the water, which indicated a vehicle had entered the pond. Divers would later confirm this to be true.

After hours of work, firefighters, who were joined by the local police, pulled out a green Chevrolet pickup truck from the pond. This was confirmed to belong to Brandy. Once it was out of the water, the doors were opened, but the missing woman was not in the vehicle. This led to a search that went into the night, with many of those looking for Brandy having worked with her in the past.

As the truck was sent away for forensic examination, Jeff learnt of its discovery while watching the 11:00pm news through his cell. The fact the truck had been discovered underwater worried him, as Brandy had always thought of the vehicle as her pride and joy.

The next morning, searchers returned to the area with cadaver dogs and volunteers. A drive team was used to search the pond for Brandy or any personal items, but found the task near impossible, given how murky the water was. Those on land conducted a thorough search of the woods and area surround the pond, with one of the dogs searching its west side, but nothing was found.

Between August 20 and 23, 2006, the retention pond was drained, in case the divers had missed anything of importance. However, while it was being emptied, investigators came to the conclusion that Brandy wasn’t likely to be in the water, a belief that was later confirmed.

For the first 30 hours, police refused to release any information about the disappearance, including Brandy’s name or photo.

Given the truck was found underwater, police looked into the possibility that Brandy had died by suicide. Over the past few months, she had been experiencing many financial pressures, due to Jeff’s charges and her losing her job at the Palm Bay Fire Station. The last time her friends had seen her, she’d appeared stressed about the number of bills the family had and she had felt she wasn’t getting ahead, despite how much she was working. Because of this, she’d spent the night before her disappearance looking through the phonebook for places to work.

Investigators spoke with Brandy’s family in order to develop a timeline for the night she went missing. Jeff was the first to be approached and was asked if he’d harmed his wife. He said he hadn’t and explained he’d last spoken to her around 9:30pm on the night of August 17. He also explained that he’d been unable to reach her when he tried calling her cellphone later that night.

Fellow firefighters were also spoken to and they shared that Brandy’s stomach had been upset that night, so she had decided to leave early and head home. Surveillance footage from both inside and outside the fire station confirmed that nothing suspicious occurred. It showed her relaxed and talking to her colleagues in the station’s living room, before leaving alone in her pickup truck at approximately 10:50pm.

Hoping to uncover new leads, investigators subpoenaed Brandy’s cellphone, bank and email records. By looking through her cellphone records, they were able to confirm her call to Jeff, as well as his attempt to call her at 11:00pm. They also noticed an 11-minute phone conversation Brandy had at around 11:05pm that night. The call had been placed by Brandy to Randall Richmond.

On August 2, 2006, Richmond was asked to come into the Palm Beach Police Department for questioning. He initially told investigators he hadn’t spoken to or seen Brandy in a few weeks, a claim that was disputed by the previously reviewed cellphone records. When confronted with his, Richmond admitted to having spoken with Brandy, who told him she was planning on leaving the night she went missing. She had been waiting at a Sunco gas station for money to be delivered, but she hadn’t told him who was delivering it to her. All she said was that he was not to contact her again. Brandy’s family finds Richmond’s story difficult to believe, as she wouldn’t have left her children without notice.

The police considered if the sinking of Brandy’s truck could have been part of some elaborate plan for the missing woman to stage her own disappearance. While checking out the details, they found the story difficult to confirm. No one remembered seeing Brandy or her truck at the gas station and there was no external video to obtain an image from. However, her cellphone did ping off a cellphone tower from a three-mile radius that covered both the pond and the gas station.

Eventually, the truck’s forensic results were returned and showed Brandy’s blood was present on the driver’s side door, on one of the seats and on the floorboard on the driver’s side. Given the amount of water that had been in the vehicle, it was difficult to determine how much blood there really was, but it did lead investigators to question if foul play had been involved in Brandy’s disappearance. It also helped to fuel public speculation that she had staged her own death in order to disappear. As she had been an EMT, she would have known how to take her own blood.

As the investigation progressed, Brandy’s family began to question why the police had yet to find her gun, which she always kept on her. According to them, she wouldn’t have allowed a stranger to get near her, so if someone had harmed her, it would have had to have been someone she knew and trusted.

Police worked to get the case featured on America’s Most Wanted in order to gain it national attention.

Jeff’s arrest was looked at in relation to Brandy’s disappearance, as investigators wondered if those Jeff had dealt with would want to silence his wife in order to keep her from talking. This put him under suspicion, something that was further fuelled by him refusing to speak with authorities on the advice of his lawyer. As he was trying to appeal his sentence, he didn’t want anything to affect it.

To help encourage leads in the case, Brandy’s family put up a reward for $1,000. In order to raise more money, her friends set up a garage sale. Eventually, the total was increased to $10,000.

The longer Brandy was missing, the more investigators believed foul play was involved. After their initial searches, the case went cold, and her family and friends found it difficult to hold out hope she was still alive.

On June 28, 2007, fishermen discovered her backpack floating in a canal near Vero Beach, located within Indian River County, Florida. It was 30 miles south of where her truck had been found and contained her day planner, her wallet and other personal items, as well as metal weights. It’s location and the inserted weights puzzled investigators, as the canal and pond were not connected, and they were led to believe someone had purposely thrown it where it was found, in the hopes it would never be recovered.

Upon the backpack being found, the theory that Brandy had disappeared willingly was ruled out. This was due to the fact that the amount of clothing found within was only enough to support a single change of clothes. This led to a search of the canal by Miami Search and Rescue. While nothing was initially found, two more items of interest were located on July 7, 2007.

Brandy’s family has pointed out that her medication was absent from the backpack. This is suspicious, as she took it daily to deal with headaches that were the result of her ATV accident.

In July 2008, a yellow Osceola County Fire Department helmet was found washed ashore near Mathers Bridge in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. It had been previously used by Brandy during her time with the Holopaw Fire Department. While it’s not believed to be related to the missing woman’s disappearance, investigators haven’t completely ruled it out.

After 14 months of silence and a lost appeal, Jeff agreed to speak with police. He was visited numerous time and his whereabouts on the night in question were checked. When asked to take a lie detector test, he obliged and showed no signs of deception. He has since been forthcoming with information and is no longer classified as a suspect or person of interest, and it’s been ruled out that Brandy’s disappearance is related to his involvement in the drug trade.

People have questioned if Brandy’s disappearance would have received more coverage if Jeff hadn’t been sentenced to jail time. It’s a thought that weighs heavily on him.

With Jeff’s cooperation, the focus of the investigation moved again to Randall Richmond. During his discussions with police, Jeff shared that Richmond and Brandy had been having an affair, with one of Brandy’s cellphones showing text messages that indicated something was happening between the two former co-workers. The affair was also confirmed by those closest to the missing woman.

In December 2007, a search warrant was obtained and Richmond’s truck was searched. It was learnt that his vehicle had been seen in the area not far from where Brandy’s truck had been located, and her friends shared that the pond had been a place where the pair would meet in secret to chat. While the truck was seized, no trace evidence was found.

When Richmond was brought in for questioning, he told investigators that the pair’s relationship was simply an “emotional affair” and that they hadn’t crossed any boundaries. On the night in question, he claimed to have been asleep in his private room at the Palm Bay Fire Station and said those working with him would have noticed if he’d left at any point. However, as there is an exterior door in the room, he could have left without anyone noticing.

It was also revealed that Brandy and Richmond’s wife, Anne-Marie, had had a verbal altercation several months before she went missing, which was witnessed by many. As well, several people, including Jeff, had seen threatening text messages sent by Anne-Marie to Brandy. When questioned by police, she said she’d went straight home after completing her shift as a nurse, sometime around 11:00pm.

Throughout the investigation, Richmond has continued to claim he doesn’t know what happened to Brandy. Both he and his wife have since obtained lawyers and have stopped speaking with police. They have since divorced.

In February 2009, a search and rescue group out of New England searched around the retention pond where the truck was found, this after several new areas of interest were named. The group saw this as an opportunity to train new members and search dogs in realistic conditions, and they used new equipment and search techniques, including an underwater infrared camera to scan several waterways. There had been concerns that Brandy’s body could have been buried under dirt that was moved in order to help drain the pond, but the search dogs didn’t hit on any scents.

There has been no activity on Brandy’s bank accounts since she went missing.

In August 2011, the Palm Bay Police Department enlisted the help of FBI profilers, this during a time where they were giving the case a fresh look. At the time, they felt they needed just one good tip in order to solve the case.

In February 2012, cadaver dogs were used to search for Brandy through palmettos and around the Malabar Fire Department, but didn’t hit on anything. It was thought the dogs would be able to cover more territory during the wintertime.

A search near Babcock Street and Osage Street in Palm Bay was conducted in December 2018 by detectives and Brandy’s family. Three years prior, a funded search of the area had alerted to things of interest, but weather had dampened search efforts. It included the search of a park, properties that had since been plowed over, wooded areas and swampy wetlands.

In August 2019, two cadaver dogs with the Peace River K9 Search and Rescue indicated that something might be buried in the backyard of Brandy’s old house, a finding that was later backed up through the use of ground-penetrating radar. The radar had indicated that disturbances were roughly five feet below the ground, so in October 2019 a new search was conducted with the help of the city’s Public Works department, an anthropologist and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. However, nothing was found.

Police feel Brandy was likely murdered on the night she went missing and, as such, the case has been ruled a homicide. Numerous detectives have taken over the case throughout the years and all suspect foul play. They continue to develop new leads and say they have several persons of interest. To help further the case, psychics have been contacted and a retired detective bought an ad in a local newspaper to remind the public that Brandy is still missing.

In August 2015, Brandy’s family petitioned the court to have her declared legally dead. She received a Presumptive Death Certificate, which put her death on the same night she disappeared.

Brandy’s family feels someone out there knows more than they’re saying. In order to help bring in new leads, they’ve gotten the help of private investigator Nicolas Sandberg, who is working on the case pro bono.

THEORIES:

1) The first theory proposed in the case is that Brandy died by suicide. This is supported by the financial pressures she was facing at the time she went missing. However, given her body wasn’t located in the pond where her vehicle was found and no one has come across her body during the numerous search held over the years, this is seen as unlikely.

2) Some believe Jeff to have been involved in his wife’s disappearance, given the amount of legal pressure he was under due to his drug charges. However, he has denied any involvement and passed a lie detector test that was administered in relation to the case. As such, investigators do not feel he was involved.

3) There’s a theory that Jeff’s arrest may have put Brandy’s life in danger. It’s possible that those Jeff dealt with got wind that she was going to testify at his sentencing hearing and thus could have been afraid she’d release names whilst on the stand. Could she had been killed in order to keep her silent?

After speaking with Jeff, investigators have stated this theory is unlikely.

4) One of the more widely discussed theories in the case is that Brandy disappeared of her own accord, this supported by the story Randall Richmond shared upon speaking with investigators. The blood found in her truck has led some to believe she may have faked her own death in order to disappear, but police haven’t been able to confirm how the blood got in the vehicle or whether Richmond’s story has any credence. As well, the discovery of the backpack in the canal near Vero Beach also rules out this theory as being plausible.

5) The final and primary theory in the case is that Randall Richmond is somehow involved in Brandy’s disappearance. As the two were having an affair and he lied about being the last one to speak with her, some are of the belief that he had something to do with Brandy going missing. There’s also the sightings of his truck near the retention pond and his strange behaviour on the day of Jeff’s court appearance, as well as the altercations between his wife and Brandy.

As aforementioned, Richmond continues to claim he knows nothing of Brandy’s disappearance. Investigators have stated they feel he knows more than he’s shared.

AFTERMATH:

Jeff was paroled in October 2009 and reunited with his family upon his release. He has since relocated to Orlando, Florida, and shares that he and his children miss Brandy dearly.

In 2016, Brandy’s family held a memorial for her behind the Malabar Fire Department to mark the 10-year anniversary of her disappearance.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Brandy Hall went missing from the Malabar Fire Department in Malabar, Brevard County, Florida on August 17, 2006. She was 32 years old, and was last seen wearing an off-white long-sleeved shirt with the Malabar Fire Department logo over the left breast and the words “Malabar Fire Department” on the back; dark-coloured work pants; and mid-calf work boots. At the time of her disappearance, she stood between 5’6″ and 5’8″ and weighed approximately 125 to 140 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes. She has two noticeable scars, one of her right eyebrow and the other on her abdomen. She also has a tattoo of a fishing scene on her lower back and one of Tweety Bird with a fire hydrant on her ankle. Her navel and tongue are pierced.

Currently, her case is classified as endangered missing and investigators are treating it as a homicide. If alive, she would be 46 years old.

If you have any information regarding the case, you can contact the Palm Bay Police Department at 321-952-3456.

Image Credit: Facebook

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