The mysterious disappearance of Bryce Laspisa: A decade of unanswered questions

19-year-old Bryce Laspisa was last seen driving towards Castaic Lake, California, but his car was found wrecked with no sign of him. A decade has passed but no trace of Bryce has still been found.

The disappearance of Bryce Laspisa is a haunting mystery that has left investigators and his family baffled for over a decade. A bright 19-year-old college student with a promising future, Bryce’s life took a dark turn, leading to his enigmatic vanishing on August 30, 2013. This blog article delves into the perplexing case, exploring the timeline of events, potential theories, and the enduring search for answers.

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Karen and Michael Laspisa with their son Bryce. Facebook / Find Bryce Laspisa

Bryce Laspisa’s happy childhood

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Young Bryze Laspisa with his mother Karen Laspisa. Facebook / Find Bryce Laspisa

Bryce Laspisa was a young man with a bright future. Born and raised in Illinois, he enjoyed a happy childhood filled with creativity and artistic talent. In 2012, 18-year-old Laspisa graduated from Naperville Central High School outside of Chicago. His parents, newly retired, decided to move the family to California, settling in Laguna Niguel, Orange County.

Soon after arriving, Bryce moved north to Chico, just 90 miles past Sacramento. He was about to begin his freshman year studying graphic and industrial design at Sierra College.

A promising beginning

In Bryce’s first year at college, everything was going great. He did well in his classes, became close friends with his roommate Sean Dixon, and started dating another student named Kim Sly. When the summer break came, he told his family, girlfriend, and friends how excited he was to go back to school. Everything seemed good, and he had a promising future ahead of him.

Laspisa turns to substance abuse

When Bryce Laspisa came back to Sierra College two weeks before classes started again, he seemed full of energy and enthusiasm. Karen, his mom, talked to him on the phone, and it was just like a normal conversation. He went to his classes and met up with his friends. But after a while, things started to change for Bryce, and it seemed like his life was starting to fall apart.

Sean and Kim began to notice subtle changes in how Bryce behaved. He started to be more quiet, unpredictable, and sad. Kim remembered that Bryce told her he was taking Vyvanse, a medicine for ADHD, even though he didn’t have that condition. This medicine can have serious side effects like making people have psychotic disorders, feeling very sad or depressed, or abruptly getting too excited.

A disturbing turn

Sean Dixon reported that Bryce started drinking strong alcohol every day, like a lot in a single weekend. Sean also confirmed what Kim had claimed about Bryce taking Vyvanse. Bryce confessed to Kim that he used the medicine to stay awake and play video games, even though this worried her. But Bryce didn’t seem to take these concerns seriously. Something was clearly wrong, but nobody could figure out exactly what was happening to him.

Bryce Laspisa’s increasingly unusual behavior before his disappearance

Sean and Kim further said that Bryce started using Vyvanse a lot, especially in the first two weeks of the fall semester. It became a big concern because he was using it very often. On August 27, he broke up with Kim by text message, saying that she’d be “better off without [him].” He also sent Sean an unusually heartfelt text message reading “I love you bro, seriously. You are the best person I’ve ever met. You saved my soul.” That same day, he’d given Sean his Xbox and gave away a pair of diamond earrings given to him by his mother.

On August 28, Sean called Karen Laspisa to tell her that he was worried about her son. Later that night, Bryce called Karen. He was at Kim’s home, and she was concerned enough about his behavior that she’d taken the keys to his 2003 Toyota Highlander away, believing that he was in no condition to drive. Bryce informed his mother of the argument, and Karen quickly convinced Kim to return his keys and told her son to go home to bed. Karen offered to fly north to check on him, but his son told her not to come until he’d spoken to her the next day. “I have a lot to talk to you about,” he said. He left Kim’s apartment at 11:30 p.m.

A night of concern

At 1 a.m. on August 29, Bryce Laspisa called his mom again. She thought he was calling from his apartment, but later they found out he was actually calling from a place that was an hour’s drive south of Rocklin.

Then, at 11 a.m., she and her husband were notified that Bryce had used their insurance’s roadside assistance service. A man named Christian, owner of Castro Tire and Gas in the town of Buttonwillow, reported that he’d delivered three gallons of gasoline to their son after he ran out of fuel around 9 a.m. Christian offered to return to the spot where he’d seen Bryce.

There, he discovered Bryce hadn’t moved in hours (aprox 13 hours). Christian approached to tell him that his parents were worried, and called them to let them know their son’s location. Bryce agreed to make the three-hour drive home, and Christian watched as he drove off around 3 p.m.

Hours passed, and still the Laspisas hadn’t heard from Bryce, so they reluctantly filed a missing persons report with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. By tracking his cell phone, two officers were able to locate him just a few miles from where Christian had seen him.

The officers reported that he seemed lucid and friendly, and showed no signs of intoxication, nor were any drugs or alcohol found in his vehicle. The police told Laspisa that his parents were worried, and when he seemed hesitant to call them, finally dialed for him. Karen told him to come home, and called Christian to check on him. By this point, Michael and Karen were relieved when Christian called to confirm that their son had gotten back onto I-5 and headed south.

Bryce Laspisa’s baffling disappearance

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Laspisa was friendly and was liked by his classmates. Facebook / Find Bryce Laspisa

At 2 a.m. on August 30, Bryce Laspisa called his mother one last time to tell her that he was too tired to drive anymore and would pull off the road to sleep. He mentioned that he was near Castaic Lake. Although this decision struck his family as odd and raised concerns about his safety, they agreed with the decision, and expected to see him in the morning. But when the doorbell rang six hours later, it wasn’t their son the Laspisas found at their doorstep, but a California Highway Patrol Officer.

Car accident

The officer conveyed them that Bryce’s car was found abandoned in a ravine near Castaic Lake a few hours later. His cell phone, wallet, laptop, and clothing were all inside the vehicle. It appeared that he had broken the car’s back window and crawled out.


The disappearance of Bryce Laspisa prompted extensive efforts from investigators, law enforcement agencies, and volunteers in the search for answers. Here are some of the key efforts made in the search for Bryce:

Initial investigation

From the beginning, when Bryce was reported missing on August 29, 2013, local law enforcement agencies immediately launched an investigation. They later began by gathering information from his family, friends, and acquaintances to understand his state of mind and any potential leads.

Bryce’s car – a crucial focal point
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Bryce’s car was discovered abandoned near Castaic Lake. His belongings remained inside, but Bryce was nowhere to be found. The circumstances surrounding the car’s accident raised questions about whether it was intentional. Google Earth

Bryce’s car was found abandoned on the roadside near Bakersfield on August 29, which became a crucial focal point of the investigation. Law enforcement conducted a thorough examination of the vehicle for any clues or evidence that might shed light on his disappearance.

Cell phone and electronic records

Investigators analyzed Bryce’s cell phone and electronic records to track his movements leading up to and after his disappearance. They checked his call history, text messages, and internet activity for any potential leads.

Interviews and surveillance footage
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“I’ve thought about every possible scenario about where he could be and what could’ve happened to him,” Kim Sly later said, about Bryce Laspisa. Facebook/ Find Bryce Laspisa

Detectives interviewed people who had interacted with Bryce in the days leading up to his disappearance. They also reviewed surveillance footage from gas stations, rest areas, and other locations to trace his movements.

Search and rescue operations
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Bryce’s car was discovered abandoned near Castaic Lake. His belongings remained inside, but Bryce was nowhere to be found. The circumstances surrounding the car’s accident raised questions about whether it was intentional. Facebook / Find Bryce Laspisa

Extensive ground searches were conducted in the areas where Bryce’s car was found and other potentially relevant locations. Search and rescue teams combed through rugged terrain, including Castaic Lake and its surroundings, in the hopes of locating any trace of Bryce.

Air and water searches
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Search and rescue for Bryce Laspisa. Facebook / Find Bryce Laspisa

Helicopters and drones were deployed to conduct aerial searches, while divers scoured the waters of Castaic Lake. These efforts aimed to cover a broader area in the search for any clues.

A false lead

At one point, a burnt body was discovered near Castaic Lake, leading to initial speculation that it might be Bryce. However, this was later ruled out, and the identity of the deceased individual was determined to be someone else.

Public awareness campaigns
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Billboard featuring Bryce Laspisa. Facebook / Find Bryce Laspisa

To generate leads and information from the public, investigators and Bryce’s family launched public awareness campaigns. They used social media, news outlets, and community outreach to share his story and seek tips from potential witnesses.

Reward offer
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Photo of Bryce Laspisa from 2013 (left) age-progression picture of what Bryce Laspisa may look like today. Facebook /

A reward was offered for information leading to Bryce’s whereabouts or the resolution of the case, in the hopes of incentivizing individuals with crucial information to come forward.

Despite these extensive efforts, Bryce Laspisa’s disappearance remains unsolved, leaving his family and investigators with lingering questions and uncertainties. The case remains open, and authorities continue to encourage anyone with information to come forward, hoping to one day bring closure to this mysterious case.

Sightings and theories

There were alleged sightings of Bryce in other locations, including one in Missoula, Montana. However, these sightings turned out not to be him. Over the years, numerous theories have emerged in an attempt to shed light on Bryce’s mysterious disappearance. Some speculate that he intended to start a new life, while others suggest a psychotic break triggered by drug use. There is also the unsettling possibility that his remains have not yet been discovered, leaving his fate uncertain.

A decade of heartache

Now, a decade has passed since Bryce Laspisa went missing near Castaic Lake. His parents, Karen and Michael Laspisa, continue to search for answers and hope for closure. They tirelessly advocate for information, urging anyone with knowledge of Bryce’s whereabouts or circumstances leading to his disappearance to come forward.

Final words

The enigma of Bryce Laspisa’s disappearance serves as a chilling reminder of how quickly life can take unexpected and devastating turns. A young man with immense potential, Bryce’s journey took a dark and perplexing path, leaving his family with many unanswered questions that haunt them to this day. As the case remains open, the search for truth and closure continues, offering a glimmer of hope that one day, the mystery of Bryce Laspisa will be uncovered.

After reading about the mysterious disappearance of Bryce Laspisa, read about The mysterious disappearance of Emma Fillipoff,  then read about What really happened to Lars Mittank?