Brandy Hanna, then 32, was a waitress who had never failed to show up at work…but then suddenly missed a shift. A neighbor saw her get into a red truck the night she vanished—the same kind both of her ex-boyfriends drove. And both deny knowing what happened.
This Brandy Hanna wiki delves into her tragic, puzzling disappearance and the ongoing developments.
|About Brandy Renee Hanna|
|Birth||November 16, 1972|
|Siblings||Mykal Parent, Shane Parent|
|Parents||Donna Hanna Parent|
Who Is Brandy Hanna?
Brandy Renee Hanna was born to Donna Hanna (later known as Donna Parent) on November 16, 1972.
As the first-born child and only daughter, Hanna was especially close to her mother, Donna Parent. But she was also very close to the rest of her family.
Hanna had two younger brothers, Mykal Parent and Shane Parent.
A U.S. Army veteran, Hanna lived in North Charleston, South Carolina. She is described as a shy, quiet person with a small circle of friends.
Despite being a homebody, Hanna loved being a waitress, interacting with people on a regular basis. In fact, she had a great rapport with customers and never missed a day of work.
When she wasn’t at work, you could find Hanna at home. She didn’t like bars or clubs. Instead, she liked to curl up on the couch with her phone plugged into the charger, watching TV.
Since she was on a budget, Hanna used a prepaid phone to contact friends and family. But her mother purchased her a monthly paid phone so that she could contact her whenever she wanted. The new phone also had the added benefit of voicemail.
Hanna was constantly on both cellphones, talking and text messaging friends and sometimes talking to her mom more than half a dozen times a day.
A Love Triangle
At one point, Hanna was living comfortably with her boyfriend of six years, Michael Ray McAdams Jr., known as Ray. He was the brother-in-law of her best friend Amy McAdams. Ray allowed his friend, Garland “Zeke” Lankford, to move in. Lankford had recently left his wife and kids and needed somewhere to crash.
No good deed goes unpunished, as Hanna ended up falling in love with Lankford, which she eventually confessed to Ray McAdams. As expected, McAdams kicked Lankford out. But he gave Hanna a choice—end the affair with Lankford or get out.
Hanna decided to move out. This might not have been a total surprise to those who really knew her.
According to coworkers, Hanna seemed afraid of McAdams. Her mother said that it “wasn’t always that way.” The pair were engaged at one point.
Hanna and Lankford ended up finding a nice apartment in a working-class part of town, near Alex’s Restaurant. Her mom recalls Lankford asking to borrow money from her for the security deposit on the apartment.
The pair moved into the apartment to start their new life about a month and a half before Hanna disappeared. The new life didn’t last long.
Less than a month after moving in and contributing nothing to the relationship, and just before Hanna vanished, Lankford packed up and left. He had decided he wanted to get back together with his wife and kids and make it work.
Hanna was now alone in a new neighborhood, one associated with drugs and crime, after just six weeks.
Her mother, Parent, and her best friend, Amy, said that Hanna was emotional and upset. She was very much in love with Lankford and heartbroken that he would leave her so abruptly. But she was certain that he would eventually return and choose her over his wife.
Hanna was willing to wait. This explains, in part, why she continued to have open dialogue with Lankford after he left and allowed him to keep a key to the apartment. She didn’t like being the “other woman” though.
May 20, 2005 – Brandy Hanna Goes Missing
Brandy Hanna worked as a waitress at Pappy’s off Remount Road in Hanahan, South Carolina off and on for years.
Tricia Williamson, her boss at Pappy’s, said regarding Hanna, “She loved animals and was always happy. She was a good girl.”
In March 2005, Hanna started working as a waitress at Alex’s Restaurant on Dorchester Road. The change of scenery allowed her a chance to spend time with her mother, who was the manager there. For two fun months, they worked side-by-side.
The move also came shortly after Hanna had broken up with McAdams and started officially dating Lankford.
On Thursday, May 19, Brandy Hanna showed up to have lunch with best friend Amy McAdams at Pappy’s, where Amy worked. She invited one of the other waitresses, Susan Berry, to go to the beach with her that weekend, but Berry couldn’t go.
The next day, Friday, May 20, Brandy Hanna started her regular shift at Alex’s, coming in at 7:00 a.m. and working until around 2:30 p.m.
“She was fine all day long,” Diane White, a waitress at Alex’s, remembered. “She was happy because (Lankford) was coming to see her the next day.”
Sometime during her shift, a customer in the restaurant said Hanna took a call on Alex’s main number that rattled her.
“She told me she was scared of someone, but she wouldn’t tell me who,” said Thomas Johnson, a regular at Alex’s.
Before leaving after her shift ended, Hanna called her mother. Parent hadn’t arrived yet at the restaurant and Hanna didn’t want to leave without seeing her.
Hanna called her and asked, “Momma, you’re late. Where are you?”
Parent was just a couple of blocks away and replied, “Hold your horses. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Hanna and her mom chatted for a bit. She walked out of the restaurant a little before 3:00 p.m., carrying a cup filled with iced tea.
Andy Ragnow, a retired cop who drove people around town for a few dollars, stopped by the restaurant to give Hanna a lift home. He said that she was “happy-go-lucky and could not wait for the weekend to start.”
He dropped Hanna off at her apartment complex and waited for her to enter her house. She turned back, waved, and said, “See you Monday.”
Hanna was on both her phones that night. She spoke to her mother at 5:30 p.m. and talked about how Lankford might come over that night. Parent expected to hear from her again that night since Hanna liked to talk.
Parent called later but Hanna let the call go through to voicemail. That night, Hanna texted her friend, Amy, at around 8:00 p.m.
The two friends made plans to go shopping that evening after Amy finished work. Hanna wanted to buy a bathing suit because she was going to go to the beach on Saturday.
According to phone records, Hanna checked her voicemail less than an hour later and texted Lankford at around 10:00 p.m.
That evening, Parent was looking out the window of Alex’s Restaurant when she realized that she hadn’t heard from her daughter all night. So, she called her right away and left another message.
“I knew that something was not right,” Parent said.
Meanwhile, Amy worked overtime and got to Hanna’s apartment later than expected. But she let her know that she would be late.
When Amy showed up at Hanna’s apartment at 10:30 p.m., she discovered that all of the lights were off, but she could hear the TV. She simply assumed that her friend had gone to bed.
Amy called Hanna just to make sure. Hearing the phone go off inside the apartment was confirmation that Hanna was most likely inside but asleep.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Parent called her daughter again on Saturday morning. Again, no answer.
She went to work and when she finished, she headed over to Hanna’s apartment and called her phone. Parent said that she couldn’t hear the phone inside and presumed her daughter was at the beach.
Amy tried to call Hanna to find out what had happened on Friday night, but never reached her.
“I didn’t think anything of it,” Amy said. “I figured she was at the beach.”
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Hanna’s family has a tradition of meeting at Alex’s Restaurant for breakfast on Sunday mornings. But Hanna didn’t show up.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Parent was at home on Monday morning, but knew that her daughter’s shift at Alex’s Restaurant started at 7:00 a.m. No one called her to tell her that Hanna hadn’t shown up for her shift, so she started to feel relaxed. Maybe Hanna just had a busy weekend.
But at 7:20 a.m., Parent’s phone rang. She got the news that Hanna hadn’t shown up for her shift.
Parent called the local police. But they told her that Hanna was an adult and there was nothing to suggest anything bad had happened to her.
According to the authorities, Parent was just a mother who couldn’t get a hold of her daughter. Nothing to see here.
Lankford Gets Sneaky at Hanna’s Apartment?
Parent called Lankford that Monday morning because she knew he had a key to Hanna’s apartment. She told him on the phone not to enter the apartment without her. As she arrived at the apartment, Lankford was seen leaving it.
When Parent confronted Lankford, he told her that he went inside to see if Hanna was there. The last thing he wanted was for Parent to see her daughter dead on the floor, he claimed. The two of them entered the apartment together.
It looked as though Hanna had just stepped out with every intention of coming back. Everything was in place—money, clothing, the iced tea she took from work the previous Friday evening, and the blanket she used to cuddle up with on the couch. Her prepaid phone was left charging beside her bed, but her other cell phone was missing.
There was no suggestion of forced entry or a struggle. And there was no hint as to where she had went.
Police finally opened an investigation into Brandy Hanna four days later, on Friday, May 27.
On June 1, with the rent not paid, Hanna’s landlord asked Parent to pack up all of her daughter’s belongings and return the apartment key.
48 Hours Later
The evidence collected by police in the critical days after Hanna disappeared turned up nothing. There were no clues as to what had happened to her.
A woman who lived in a neighboring apartment told a family friend and fellow police officer (who didn’t conduct interviews as part of the investigation) that she saw Hanna the night she disappeared between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m.
She said she saw Hanna get into a red pickup truck that had white stripes on the side and a Jason Voorhees (a character from the Halloween horror movies) hockey mask strapped to the front.
She was driven to Ray McAdams’s home to see if he was the man who was driving the red pickup. She confirmed that he was.
Later, she retracted her statement and said that Lankford was the driver. But why the confusion?
First, McAdams and Lankford looked pretty similar, especially in the darkness of the parking lot.
Second, they drove the same kind of truck. Both men worked for a plumbing company that Lankford’s father owned, and the red trucks were company vehicles.
McAdams personalized his truck by putting a mask on the front. However, anyone could copy that if they wanted to.
Police Zero in on Two Suspects
Police were initially interested in two suspects—Hanna’s ex-lovers Ray McAdams and Zeke Lankford.
Lankford insisted that while he had made plans to see Hanna, those plans fell through after he learned he had to work late at a job site. His brother even corroborated his alibi.
In a signed affidavit, Lankford maintained that he had not seen Hanna all day. But this was called into question after police discovered that his time sheet for the day showed he had clocked out at 4:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, McAdams said that he was at a local nightclub from around 8:00 p.m. until around 2:00 a.m. A friend at the club corroborated his story.
After a week of being tailed by police, McAdams agreed to take a polygraph test and passed. Police said that they had no reason to suspect he had anything to do with Brandy Hanna’s disappearance at the time.
Two months after Hanna vanished, Lankford hesitantly took a polygraph test. He also passed.
McAdams and Lankford, as one would expect, cast a suspicious eye at each other. McAdams said drugs were involved, but Hanna’s family and friends said she never did hard drugs. Still, McAdams thought Lankford knew what had happened to Brandy Hanna.
For his part, Lankford said that he had no idea what happened to Hanna. He thought she had left with someone she knew and suspected McAdams knew more than he was letting on.
“I know she’d had some problems with her ex-boyfriend… I fear the absolute worst,” Lankford said.
Police Conduct Search with Sniffer Dogs
In July 2005, two months after Hanna disappeared, police conducted a search with sniffer dogs. Lankford showed up and asked the police if they thought the dogs would be able to smell Hanna if her body had been buried.
The police asked Lankford not to come around anymore.
Ray McAdams Dies
In April 2006, 11 months after she vanished, Hanna’s ex-boyfriend Ray McAdams died of a heart attack.
Since Brandy Hanna’s disappearance was treated as a missing person’s case and not a homicide, neither McAdams’s truck nor his company’s vehicles were analyzed forensically.
Amy, Ray McAdams’ sister-in-law and Hanna’s best friend, later claimed that she had taken some items to Hanna’s ex the night she disappeared. This blew holes in his once airtight alibi that he was at a nightclub all night.
With McAdams now dead, the truth would never be known.
Man Arrested for Posing as Police Officer
As if Brandy Hanna’s family didn’t have enough to contend with, Edward Wind, 34, tried to pose as a North Charleston undercover police officer in late March 2009, offering help. Wind, wearing a jacket with the word “Police” on it, went to Alex’s Restaurant to talk to Donna Parent.
“I said, ‘Who are you?’” Parent recalled. “He said, ‘I’m UC.’ And I’m like ‘UC? What the heck’s that?’ And on his jacket it said ‘police,’ and he said, ‘I’m undercover’ and I’m like, ‘Okay.’ But it felt wrong.”
Wind wanted to talk to Parent about her daughter’s missing persons poster outside the restaurant.
Parent said, “He was telling me he was good at finding missing people and he wanted to help me and all this and the other.”
But she wasn’t buying it. She wrote down his license tag number and texted it to the detective handling her daughter’s case. The detective tracked down Wind at home and took him to jail.
In bond court, the judge asked Wind about his background. He bizarrely claimed that he was a consultant for the Charleston Police Department’s band. He also said that he was doing clinical research at the Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) Department of Psychiatry.
Judge Linda Lombard asked, “What psychiatrist are you working with at MUSC?”
“Um, Olga,” Wind replied. “It’s at the psychiatry, it’s at the Institute of Psychiatry.”
Like Parent, Lombard wasn’t having any of it.
“I’m a contributing member to the community,” Wind continued. “I’m doing a lot of important things right now. To send me away, take me off the street is going to break a lot of hearts.”
“Well sir, we’re gonna have to break some hearts,” Lombard said.
Wind’s bond was set at $250,000.
Loved Ones Keep Hanna’s Memory Alive
On Tuesday, November 16, 2010, more than five years after Hanna disappeared, family and friends gathered at Alex’s Restaurant to celebrate what would have been her 38th birthday. The family actually held a vigil each year at Alex’s on Hanna’s birthday to keep her memory alive.
“You learn to take each day one step at a time. Or else I would have fallen apart. I have to keep going, be strong because I have to keep looking for her,” Parent said.
“It’s very important because I try to keep in people’s minds she is missing, she has been missing, but she has not been forgotten,” she added.
“I just want answers. More than anything to know where she is, to know what happened.”
Police Get First Big Break in Case
Six years to the day after Hanna vanished, North Charleston police said they had found the most significant clue in the case.
Thanks to new information received in May 2011, the North Charleston Police Department’s investigation into the disappearance of Brandy Hanna led them to the old Navy base in North Charleston.
On the advice of a psychic, detectives located a white Nike tennis shoe with a light blue stripe in Hanna’s size under a pier near Riverfront Park. The park was located just blocks from her apartment in an area inaccessible to the public.
Parent said a police officer pried up the lid of an old barrel in the marsh with a shovel. When he did, the shoe emerged beneath it. The shoe was tested but didn’t have any DNA on it.
Because there was no physical evidence, the police could not positively confirm the shoe belonged to Brandy Hanna. But they were still convinced that the shoe belonged to her.
“We’re 99% positive,” Donna Parent said. “It’s the same color, the same brand, and it is dated 1/29/05. There are no guarantees, but they want to look at every place they can. Brandy is going to be found, I have no doubt.”
Convinced the shoe belonged to Hanna, police brought in three of the best cadaver dog teams from other states to search along the Cooper River, near where the shoe was found. The dogs locked in on a spot also inaccessible to the public where the Charleston naval station golf course used to be.
The department began digging there in November, sifting through the soil that Ron Lacher, a North Charleston detective with the vice unit, said would preserve bone. Nothing was found at that time though.
Brandy Hanna Declared Dead
Brandy Hanna was officially declared dead on August 26, 2013. No remains have been found to date.
Police Get Bombshell Clue
In May 2016, Lacher said a lead from a woman provided “good information” about what had happened and a suspect the department was already looking at.
“I thought, ‘Let me reach out to this girl and just see, because she knew these people,’ and she dropped this bombshell on me,” Lacher said. “She’s been holding this information for 10 years.”
Since taking over Hanna’s missing persons case, Lacher and Hanna’s mother have developed a strong friendship. He said that he tries to call her every few weeks.
“I told her (in the beginning), ‘I can’t promise you I’ll find her, but I promise you I’ll never stop,’” he said.
Zeke Lankford Arrested for Obstruction
In late December 2016, Zeke Lankford, then 40, was arrested in connection with Brandy Hanna’s disappearance. He faced one count of obstruction after making several statements that contradicted earlier information he had given to police in the weeks after she vanished.
Investigators were able to interview Lankford because he was serving jail time in Berkeley County for first-degree criminal sexual misconduct charges.
On December 2, Lankford was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a seven-year-old cousin on at least two occasions in 2013 and 2014.
While being questioned by Lacher, who had been working the case for more than six years, Lankford said he might, in fact, “have gone” to Brandy Hanna’s apartment the night she disappeared.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” Lacher said. “We are treating this as a homicide investigation and we’re still working it. Anyone who has any information should come forward now.”
There were other inconsistencies with Lankford’s story. He also told police that he had not spoken to anyone except Donna Parent about Hanna’s disappearance. But phone records showed Lankford called North Charleston City Hall at least three times before she was actually declared missing.
In those calls, Lankford pretended to be an anonymous neighbor who had seen Hanna “getting into a truck with her ex-boyfriend,” Ray McAdams. But Brandy Hanna had only lived in her new apartment on Florida Avenue for a little over a month. No one would have recognized McAdams as her “ex-boyfriend.”
At the time Hanna vanished, Lankford told police that McAdams had contacted him about her disappearance on May 21, 2005. Not quite.
Phone records showed that Lankford texted McAdams several times during the morning after Brandy Hanna had disappeared.
Investigators believe that Lankford has tried to pin Hanna’s disappearance on McAdams since day one.
Remember, Lankford said in a 2005 interview that Hanna had been having problems with McAdams and that he feared “the absolute worst.”
Police said there were at least two other people with knowledge of the case. If they didn’t come forward, they could be charged with withholding information.
Was Hanna Sold to Pay a Drug Debt?
Police are following every clue to get to the bottom of the disappearance of Brandy Hanna. This includes a tip that she was sold to pay a drug debt.
Michael McAdams, the father of Ray McAdams, said he was given information that Hanna was sold to drug dealers to pay off a debt.
“I was told that Brandy was collateral for Zeke Lankford’s debt. Whether it’s true or not I don’t know, but I was told she was sent to Houston to pay off the debt,” he said.
But Lacher, the lead detective in the case, said there’s no credible information that she was sold to drug dealers. But he still looks at every tip that comes their way.
— Harve Jacobs (@policereporter) December 21, 2016
Over a Decade Later
A lot has changed since Hanna disappeared in May 2005. She has three new nephews and a niece who shares her name. Her stepfather, Gary, has died.
Monica Caison, the founder and director of the CUE Center for Missing Persons, is now a close friend of the family.
Donna Parent no longer works at Alex’s Restaurant, and not because it has since closed. She works at a steakhouse in North Charleston. She said it’s a good job and the restaurant is less distracting than Alex’s.
What hasn’t changed, though, is that Parent still finds herself expecting her daughter to come walking through the door. After all, there is no solid evidence that a crime took place and no real clues as to Hanna’s disappearance. She just vanished, like thousands of adults do each year.
Still, friends don’t know how Parent lives with not knowing after all these years.
“You have to live with it, for [Hanna],” she said. “If I don’t think about her, no one would.”
Not giving up on her daughter, Parent posted this on Facebook in 2017:
Between recent tips, Lankford’s obstruction charge (which carries up to a 10-year prison sentence), and cooperation from other witnesses, police believe they may soon finally be able to solve one of South Carolina Lowcountry’s most tragic mysteries.
Details about Brandy Hanna
- Missing Since: May 20, 2005
- Missing from: North Charleston, South Carolina
- Date of Birth: November 16, 1972
- Age at Time of Disappearance: 32 years old
- Height: 5’9”
- Weight: 115 pounds
- Clothing/Jewelry Description: She was wearing a diamond ring with very small diamonds arranged in the shape of a flower and possibly blue jeans, a light-blue shirt, and size 10 Nike sneakers.
- Distinguishing Characteristics: A white woman with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. Hanna’s upper teeth are crooked, her molars are missing, and she has a gap between her upper front teeth. She has three piercings in her left ear and her right ear is pierced twice. She has a tattoo of a heart between her right thumb and forefinger and a sun on her right shoulder. Hanna’s blood type is A-positive.