Brandee Canipe- North Carolina- 2006 Oct 23, 2022 20:18:26 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Oct 23, 2022 20:18:26 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: nbcnews.com)
“Hey, my name is Leigh, and my sister Brandee disappeared 16 years ago.”
Leigh Scoggin never imagined what would happen when she decided to share the story of her sister’s disappearance on TikTok. “I was really nervous to post that first video,” she told Dateline. “It took me a couple of months to even get the gall to post that video.”
What Leigh found after she posted that first video, was a community of strangers on the internet who wanted to know more.
Leigh’s sister Brandee Hope Canipe, was last known to be alive in North Carolina in May of 2006. The 29-year-old, who had been married twice, was also known as Brandee Hope McCluney and Brandee Hope Rackley.
“I am the youngest of four girls,” Leigh said. “She’s the oldest.” The order went Brandee, Staley, Paige and then Leigh.
The sisters, who all shared the same mother, grew up in Shelby, North Carolina within Cleveland County.
Brandee was 16 years older than her youngest sister. “Brandee was also pregnant with her daughter at the same time my mom was pregnant with me,” Leigh told Dateline. “So me and her daughter grew up very close -- months apart.”
Leigh told Dateline she remembers Brandee always being around for the holidays. “She was very funny and she loved scary movies,” Leigh said. “She used to let me watch ‘Bride of Chucky’ all the time and wouldn’t tell my mom,” Leigh said with a laugh. “I was probably about -- I wasn't even in kindergarten yet, so I was still pretty young.”
Leigh says she remembers Brandee’s half-brother on her father’s side had a collection of Goosebumps books that he’d let them borrow. “That's kind of how I started reading. She would read me the Goosebumps,” Leigh said.
Brandee’s youngest daughter, Autumn McCluney -- who was six years old when her mom disappeared -- told Dateline the same thing. “My mom – she loved scary movies,” Autumn said. “Me, her and my sister would all lay on the couch together. I remember we would just get blankets and we would watch scary movies.”
Autumn says one of her mom’s favorite movies was The Exorcist. “I'm six years old watching ‘The Exorcist,’” Autumn said with a laugh. “But it was -- I liked doing it when I was watching it with them. It was fun.”
Autumn spoke fondly of her memories with her mother. “We did a lot of watching movies and playing games,” she said. “I haven't really been a big fan of watching scary movies since she went missing.”
“She was a free spirit,” Leigh remembered. “She had her friends that she'd hang out with, and my sister Staley -- they were pretty close.”
Staley Cline agreed. “Oh, goodness. Brandee. She was -- she was my caretaker,” Staley said. “When we were younger, we were really, really close.”
Staley said she and Brandee didn’t have the easiest childhood. “She was the big sister, she was my protector,” but, Staley added with a laugh, “she was also the bully.”
Three years older than Staley, Brandee was an imposing figure. “Tall. Brandee was tall. She had long, long legs,” Staley said. “She had, at the time, long brown -- light brown hair, brown eyes.” Staley told Dateline that Brandee also had a couple of tattoos. One was a heart with wings on her right wrist and the other was a rose with a dagger on her shoulder blade.
As the sisters became teenagers, Brandee went in a different direction than the other girls. “She was more on the wild side -- more than me and my sisters,” Staley said.
Brandee moved out of the house at a young age. “She kind of went her own way and then I went my own way,” Staley remembered. “But we always pretty much stayed, you know, we stayed in touch.”
It just wasn’t on a regular basis anymore.
Autumn McCluney told Dateline she doesn’t remember the last time she saw her mother. “I don't remember exactly the day, because I was so young,” she said.
“I didn't know that she was missing. As the years went on, I started asking questions about my mom and, like, where she was,” Autumn told Dateline. “I remember just, like, looking for her car in the parking lot. Like when we would go to Walmart or something, like, I would look for her car to see if I could find her.”
But Autumn never spotted her mother’s car.
“I didn't really realize that, like, how big of an issue it was at the time,” Autumn said.
“Brandee was kind of bad about running off at times sometimes and not telling anybody where she was at for just, like, you know, for a couple of months,” Brandee's sister Staley told Dateline. “But she would always reach out to me eventually and let me know, you know, where she was at and that she was fine.”
When she ran off, Brandee usually stayed in North Carolina, but at one point she moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. According to Staley, she lived there for a while before moving to the Winston-Salem, North Carolina area with a boyfriend.
Leigh Scoggin told Dateline that Brandee would come and go throughout her childhood. The last time she saw her big sister was in 2006, when she was in the fifth grade. “She came to visit and she only brought a couple of things – like, a small, like, bag, and her pocketbook, of course. And she drove her car,” Leigh said.
Brandee drove her to the bus stop that morning. “The last time I saw her, I was waiting with her in the car at the bus stop and it was early in the morning,” Leigh said. “I was waiting on the bus to come get me.”
Leigh said that she doesn’t remember anything being out of the ordinary that day. “She was always, you know, kind of on the go,” she said.
Leigh said goodbye to Brandee and got on the bus.
She never saw her sister again. “It would be sometimes a month or so without contact with her when we were younger, but she had never gone that long,” Leigh said. “I didn't hear anything for quite a long time.”
There wasn’t much Leigh could do about it, at the time. “I was only 10 years old, you know. I had no control,” Leigh said.
A month or so turned into years with no word from Brandee. Staley told Dateline that she knew something was truly wrong when Brandee didn’t show up for a funeral.
“It was her ex-husband's mother that died, and so -- she was really close to them,” Staley said. “I finally was like, you know, after Janice died, I was like ‘Maybe we need to report her missing, because something's going on. I haven't heard from her in a long time.’”
Autumn told Dateline the same thing. “So, actually, both of our grandparents passed away. My grandpa had passed away at home, while my grandma was in the hospital. And three days later my grandma ended up passing away,” she said. “We had their funeral together, which was a big red flag for everybody that Mama didn't show up.”
Autumn, who was about 10 years old at the time that her grandparents died, believes Brandee would have been there. “That was our grandparents and, like, she used to live with us,” she said. “I know that she loved them and she would -- she wouldn't have not showed up to that.”
Autumn and her older sister, Ashley, went to live with their father after their grandparents died.
Staley filed the missing person report on April 19, 2010.
The Davie County Sheriff’s Office began investigating. According to police records provided to Dateline by the Davie County Sheriff’s Office, Brandee was last seen in May of 2006 in the Mocksville, North Carolina area.
The last time Staley had seen her sister was the year before that in Shelby, North Carolina. “She worked at a little bar in Shelby, where I'm from, called Rhythm and Cues and it was like a little -- it was a little bar, nothing fancy.”
Staley told Dateline that Brandee came back to Shelby to be “closer to her daughters” who both lived with their grandmother, Janice. Staley said Brandee had her daughters at a young age and that Janice “pretty much raised those two from the time they were born until she passed away” in 2010.
The bar Brandee was working at has since closed, but Staley told Dateline that she remembers that being the “last time I actually laid my eyes on her.”
Brandee’s daughter Autumn told Dateline that her half-brother Riley -- Brandee’s only son -- was only 2 or 3 years old when his mother disappeared. “He didn’t know for the longest time that his mom was missing,” Autumn said. “We had to tell him. He thought that she had left, ‘cause nobody really talked to him about it.”
Riley had been living with his father when Brandee disappeared. Years later, another tragedy would strike. “His dad actually passed away, I want to say a few years after Mama went missing. He got into a car accident,” she said. “So Riley’s -- he’s been through a lot.”
Dateline spoke with the Davie County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division Captain DJ Smith, who has been involved with Brandee’s case since it was first reported to authorities. “I was around when it first kicked off -- when one of the detectives had it here in 2010,” he said. “I was around when I worked, you know, as an agent for the state. And I had some involvement in it -- even though it was minor involvement at the time.”
Detective Kyle Shuping was one of the main detectives investigating Brandee’s disappearance. He worked at the Davie County Sheriff’s Office until October of 2018. “I'm actually with another agency now,” he told Dateline.
Due to his familiarity with Brandee’s case, though, Detective Shuping told Dateline that he “stayed involved with the case,” even after leaving Davie County Sheriff’s Office.
Captain DJ Smith has the case files now. “I assigned this case to myself,” he said.
Captain Smith confirmed Brandee was officially reported missing on April 19, 2010.
“There was always some kind of contact, every six months, every seven months,” Capt. Smith said, of Brandee’s tendency to move around. “You get to a point where she just drops off and there’s nothing. There’s nothing at all.”
Through their investigation, officials were able to determine “that the date of the incident was May the 6th, 2006,” Capt. Smith said. “That’s when -- the last time someone had seen her.”
According to both Leigh and Staley, none of Brandee’s personal belongings – at least anything that might help in tracking her down – were ever found. “There is nothing -- nothing at all,” Staley said. “She just vanished.”
Captain Smith confirmed that none of Brandee’s belongings have ever been located. “I mean, it was a four-year period,” he said, between the last sighting and Brandee being reported as a missing person. The captain also said that since Brandee was “known to bounce around – moving from location to location,” investigators had difficulty focusing their search.
Brandee’s car -- the one Leigh remembers being dropped off at the school bus stop in -- is also still missing. “Never found the car,” Capt. Smith told Dateline. “I believe it was a 4-door Buick sedan.”
Captain Smith said they’ve tried to track it down, but have faced some difficulties. “There’s an issue with the car, where -- I don’t think it was ever registered in her name,” he said. “You know, the car was bought secondhand from somebody else.”
Captain Smith did say that close family and friends were interviewed after Brandee was reported missing, but those interviews did not provide much information.
According to the captain, authorities did investigate one of Brandee’s ex-boyfriends in the beginning. “Her ex-boyfriend lived here on Highway 158 in Davie County – it’s actually a Mocksville address,” he said. The Davie County Sheriff’s Office invited the State Bureau of Investigations to come help with the investigation.
“That’s how the SBI got involved, because Davie County didn’t have the ability to luminol,” Capt. Smith told Dateline. “I was there the entire day -- we were out there all day long. We luminoled the bejesus out of that house and didn’t find anything.”
Captain Smith told Dateline that it was lucky the ex-boyfriend still lived there. “Obviously, it was several years since she went missing,” he said. “We searched that place all day long, from top to bottom, looking for any evidence of a scene or any foul play or anything like that.” He added that “everything came back negative.”
According to Captain Smith, they also searched in the house’s crawl spaces. “I remember crawling through the crawl space, a couple of us, checking the crawl space out,” he said. But again, they found nothing that explained Brandee’s disappearance or helped further the investigation.
Brandee’s daughter Autumn told Dateline officials did locate some items that belonged to Brandee in her ex-boyfriend’s house, where she had lived for some time. “They found a Louis Vuitton necklace, it's blue and it has diamonds around it. I have that necklace,” she said. “And they found her wedding ring, and my sister has that.” The two pieces of jewelry had been in evidence at the Davie County Sheriff’s office, but were later released to Autumn and Ashley.
Detective Shuping was there during the search of the house, and confirmed those two pieces of Brandee’s jewelry had been there. “[The ex-boyfriend] very willingly told us where they were and turned those over. So it’s not like we found them or anything like that,” Det. Shuping said. “There was nothing sinister — like he was keeping them as a trophy or anything like that.”
Officials questioned the ex, but according to Captain Smith, “There was nothing to list him as a suspect.”
When someone is missing, the first hours and days are extremely important. So an investigation that begins at year four is filled with challenges -- information that may have been available in 2006 was hard to come by in 2010. “Bars where she hung out had closed,” Capt. Smith explained. “And, you know, been renamed and the businesses changed hands two, three times by then.”
When asked if security footage was ever reviewed -- or even available – Capt. Smith replied, “Not from four years [earlier.]”
Leigh told Dateline that in recent years, the detectives at the Davie County Sheriff’s Office have been more communicative with her than ever before about the investigation into her sister’s disappearance. “They had started doing some more work on the case,” she said. “They were trying to kind of vamp it up, I guess, trying to look more into it and get it solved.”
She said the detectives “will run [Brandee’s] information every so often,” typically on her social security card and driver’s license to see if they have been used at all. “Nothing has been updated,” Leigh said. “She hasn't used any of her personal information in 16 years.” Captain Smith confirmed authorities could find no digital trail for Brandee. “I mean, it’s like she dropped off the face of the earth at a certain point,” he said. “There’s no record -- paper trail, nothing.”
The Davie County Sheriff’s Office even tried facial recognition technology. “I checked with the Feds to have customs check in the embarkation/debarkation to see if there was a record of her ever coming or going from the United States,” Capt. Smith said. But again, there was nothing. “I got no evidence she left the country.” Captain Smith told Dateline that he “even had DMV check facial recognition, just in case maybe she was in the state using a different name.” Again, there was no evidence that Brandee was using an alternate identity in the state of North Carolina.
“It’s just weird to me how somebody can just fall off the face of the earth and there's nothing left behind,” Brandee’s sister Staley said. “I just don't get it.”
Brandee’s daughter Autumn told Dateline that a couple of years ago, Detective Kyle Shuping was updating the information and files on Brandee’s case. “He was just, you know, getting the basic information, just updating information and on the file -- like phone numbers, addresses and names and everything,” Autumn said.
It was during one of those phone calls that Autumn said her grandmother -- Brandee’s mother -- told the detective about an interesting detail that she thought might be important to Brandee’s case.
In recent years, Leigh has really started to dig into the mystery of her sister’s disappearance. And she remembered one detail that may be important to Brandee’s story.
It had to do with a lake house that Brandee lived in before her disappearance.
Brandee’s little sister, Leigh, told Dateline about this, too. She said that at the beginning of fifth grade, their family was facing some hardships. “We didn't have anywhere to go,” Leigh said. “So we went and picked my sister [Paige] up.” She explained that “our sister Brandee had somehow heard of our situation” and invited them to stay with her in Mocksville, about an hour and a half away from Shelby.
“We ended up going to move in with her and her boyfriend at the time for a couple of months,” Leigh said. She even enrolled in an elementary school there. “Things, you know, they were -- they were good for a while. I had my sister around. I was living with her. You know, financially we were doing OK,” she said.
According to Leigh, at some point their mother left and moved back to Shelby, but she and Paige stayed with Brandee in Mocksville.
“During that time, her and her boyfriend broke up and she told us we were moving,” Leigh said. “My sister and I, you know, we packed what little we had and we went with our sister about 45 minutes away.”
Leigh said that’s when she and Paige went to stay with Brandee in a lake house. “We were moving our things into this house that was on a dirt road down by a lake,” she told Dateline. The lake house was located on Belews Creek on the north side of Winston-Salem.
Leigh remembers some odd details about their time at the lake house. “We had met a gentleman that, I guess, had owned the property -- managed the property. He somehow gave us permission to move in there,” Leigh said. “We went down to this guy's house, you know. He had a nicer house. I don't remember seeing a wife, but he -- he had a room connected to his garage that was full of women's clothing and shoes and pocketbooks. I mean, just, like, piles.”
Leigh said the man told her she could take whatever she wanted. “You know, I'm 10 years old, 11 years old, and I didn't really have that much stuff,” Leigh said. “So I was elated that somebody was giving me things that were somewhat nice.” Leigh said the girls took a few items and “thought nothing else about it.”
Leigh also said that the man told them they could use his boat. “He showed us his boat and he was like, ‘We can have parties on this boat and it'll be fun,’” Leigh said. “We're kids, so we're like, ‘Sweet!’”
Leigh and Paige stayed at the lake house with Brandee for a little while, but then, Leigh said, “somebody had notified CPS that we were away from our mother.”
Their father and Staley came to pick them up and move them in to his house. Leigh told Dateline this happened the week before Brandee came for that visit in 2006 and took her to the school bus -- the last time she saw her sister.
Leigh said she has no idea how long Brandee stayed at the lake house after she left her at the bus stop that day. She’s not sure if she even returned there, at all.
Detective Shuping is not sure Brandee would have returned to the lake house. He told Dateline that there was a brief point when Brandee’s daughters, Ashley and Autumn, lived with their mother in Mocksville in Davie County. That would have been shortly after Paige and Leigh lived with her at the lake house. “So unless she went back to the lake after living at the house in Mocksville,” Det. Shuping said, “I don’t know that there’s anything that really ties her [back] to the lake.”
Detective Shuping said it would have had to have been right at the end of the school year in 2006. “Because those two girls were never registered in school in Davie County,” he explained. This would have been in May or early June of 2006.
Authorities did tell Dateline they have not ruled out the lake house entirely in their investigation.
Since she was only in 5th grade at the time, Brandee’s sister Leigh did not know the actual address of the lake house. She said she tried to explain the area to detectives. “We went to the Davie County Sheriff's Office and we kind of gave them, like, a diagram of what it looked like,” she told Dateline.
“The detective and I rode around what would have been the properties back then and there were areas that looked very familiar -- but all the houses were different,” Leigh said. “Everything's totally different, there's new construction everywhere.”
They were unable to identify the house, but Leigh described it. “The house that we were staying in on the lake was pretty outdated. Like, the outside was nice. It was a duplex,” Leigh said. “It was more of a horizontal duplex, but it was multi-level. One side was, like, up on a hill, I think.”
She does not believe anyone was living in the other side of the duplex during the time they were staying there.
“It kind of didn’t pan out,” Capt. Smith said of the Davie County Sherriff’s Office’s attempts to locate the lake house. “We actually took Leigh and another sister. And before that, we even drove around trying to ID the house, you know, with the description. And could never do it.”
As for the property owner Leigh told officials about, the sheriff’s office was never able to identify him. “We don’t know that he had anything to do with anything, but we just couldn’t ID him – and we’d just like to talk to him,” Capt. Smith told Dateline. “If we could’ve ID’d the house and tracked it back to him and at least had a conversation with him, it could have helped the timeline.”
Captain Smith said the Davie County Sheriff’s Office has not conducted a search of Belews Creek. “It’s a really big lake,” he said. “It’s all private property around it.”
Last year, a volunteer dive group called “Exploring with Nug” did a “search with sonar” according to Leigh. “They were a big help,” she said. Detective Shuping explained a bit more about the search “Exploring with Nug” conducted. “They sonared all of the coves on the lake that met the description that Leigh and Paige gave us,” he said. “They found two boats that were sunk and a pile of tires, but there were no vehicles found.”
“They didn’t put a diver in the water and Highway Patrol never has put a diver in the water because we’ve never had enough to say that the car or her or anything like that was in the lake,” Det. Shuping said.
Last week, another group, Chaos Divers, headed to Belews Creek to search for Brandee. They began their search on the 29th, but there is no word yet on their findings, or if Hurricane Ian has forced them to suspend their work.
Brandee’s disappearance is one of the oldest unsolved missing persons cases in Davie County. “It’s definitely one of the older ones,” Captain Smith told Dateline. He also noted authorities do not have any indication or evidence of foul play at this time. “She just disappeared. We have no indication that there’s foul play, other than – why would she be gone all this time?” Capt. Smith said. “I don’t think she had the assets and ability to stay gone this long.”
Leigh and Staley just want to know where their sister is. “Nobody knows about it,” Leigh said. “Nobody talks about it.”
Leigh told Dateline that’s why she decided to post about Brandee’s story on the internet. She was shocked and overwhelmed by the support from strangers on TikTok – especially when her first video got nearly 200,000 views. “A lot of people have reached out,” Leigh said. “They're like, ‘I'm really sorry. I want to -- what I can do to help?’”
One thing she said the TikTok community did was get Dateline’s attention. We were tagged on Leigh’s TikTok videos more than a dozen times. “I didn't think that Dateline would call me,” Leigh said. “But I'm very happy that you guys just care.”
Leigh feels like with the development of technology, her sister can be found. “I feel like it's been stagnant for so many years and there are so many different, like, new tech -- like, technologies now, that something can be done,” she said.
“I don't know what happened leading up to her disappearance and I don't like thinking about what she went through,” Leigh said, tearing up. “But I don't -- it shouldn't -- shouldn't be in vain.”
“She was our sister, a mother,” Leigh said. “She matters.”
Autumn told Dateline she is grateful for all the work the Davie County Sheriff’s Office and Detective Shuping have done to help solve her mother’s case. “He was very helpful. Like, he -- he was pushing for everything and I just really appreciate how much he's done,” she said.
Detective Shuping told Dateline that he’s always kept a close eye on Brandee’s case. “I’ve always kind of followed this and I always just, kind of, made sure I kept watching this one,” he said.
“He really wants to see the case through and I -- I appreciate them so much,” Autumn said. “They've been working so hard on it. They've been trying to get us answers and they're just really helpful.”
Leigh expressed her gratitude to those who have cared about her sister’s story, too. “I want to say thank you. Thank you so much. I did not expect it,” she said. “I really didn't think that it would go this far and I'm just -- I'm so grateful.”
Brandee has brown eyes and, at the time of her disappearance, had long, light brown hair and a slim build. Her sisters describe her as tall with long legs. She has a couple of tattoos, including a heart with wings on her right wrist and a rose with a dagger on her shoulder blade. She would be 45 years old today.
Captain Smith confirmed that Brandee’s case is still open, and he encourages anyone with information to call the Davie County Sheriff’s Office at 336-751-6238.
Charley Project page on Brandee's case: charleyproject.org/case/brandee-hope-canipe
Thoughts? I am placing Brandee's case in the Missing on TV section due to the above coverage on Dateline NBC's "Cold Case Spotlight" digital series.
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