On a cold January night in 1975, four friends traveled from Portland to Salem for a house party. In the early morning hours, one of them would go missing after following his friend out of the house. This is the story of the disappearance of Brian Joseph Page.
Brian was born in 1958 and grew up in Portland, Oregon. He went by the nickname Joe. He lived in Southeast Portland in the Mount Tabor area, attending Franklin High School.
Portland was, and still is, the largest city in Oregon, but its state capitol, Salem, is the second largest city and lies just 45 miles to the south of Portland. It’s a quick drive on I-5 to get between the two, and on the night of January 12th, 1975, Brian, his sister, and his friends took his 1962 VW bug–in a bright turquoise–down to the party.
The party was in downtown Salem, near the intersection of SE State Street and 25th. This area is just a mile east of the state capitol and right next to the Oregon State Penitentiary. While it is a densely populated area in Salem, the area is still largely residential, with primarily one level single family homes or small apartment complexes.
According Brian’s entry on the Charley Project, Brian listened to music at the party with his friend David. Reportedly, David took some LSD and wasn’t feeling well, so he went outside around 2am. Brian’s friends encouraged him to follow David and make sure he was okay. Brian was wearing jeans, a blue shirt with “Hilton” on it, and brown hiking boots. This is the last time Brian was seen.
It’s unclear where they went after this. David has said he has no memory of that evening. What is known is that by 5am, David was alone, a mile southwest of the party, at a car lot on the west end of downtown Salem near the Willamette River.
David found himself at the Capitol Chevrolet-Cadillac, located at 605 Commercial St NE. He allegedly broke in and stole the keys to a 1973 car and drove it off the lot. A short police chase ensued, and he was arrested in downtown Salem. According to The Charley Project, David was reported to have said that he thought he was in hell. David was later sentenced to a one year suspended sentence and three years of probation for charges related to the car incident.
Brian was never seen again. His car was never found. David was never reported to have any additional memories of that night surface.
So where did they go after the party? A news article reported an anonymous tip came in a week after his disappearance that claimed police would “find something not alive anymore” if they searched the area near the Wheatland Ferry. The water surrounding the ferry was searched but came up empty. The Wheatland Ferry is about 17 miles to the northwest of the party that night, and connects north Salem to farmland. It is not a direct route to Portland. The suggestion of Brian disappearing into a body of water is a valid one–since both him and his car vanished, a car accident of some kind where the car drops out of view would be one explanation. There are many bodies of water in the Salem area, the largest being the Willamette River. It runs north to south alongside the west end of the downtown area, and is crossed over by two one way bridges. Both bridges stem from streets just a block or two north of State Street, the street the party was on. Further, the bridges are only 8 blocks north along the river of the car lot David was at that evening. That said, it seems unlikely that David would have gone into the water had there been a car accident, as he was only unaccounted for for three hours, and there is no mention of him being wet when he was found. When did the two get separated? Is it possible that Brian never caught up to David after each walked out the front door of the party?
The car’s license plate is 7P3626. Brian was 5’6” and 140 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with brown hair and brown eyes. Today, he’d be 62. If you have any information about the disappearance of Brian Joseph Page, contact the Portland Police Department, (503)823-0000.
(1975) “David Ross Annin” The Statesman Journal, 19 Feb. Available at: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46340384/or-1975-david-ross-annin-brian-joseph/ Accessed 15 June 2020.
(1975) “Body Search Is Fruitless” The Statesman Journal, 20 Jan. Available at: https://www.newspapers.com/image/198858348/ Accessed 6 July 2020.
Good, Meaghan. “Brian Joseph Page.” The Charley Project, http://charleyproject.org/case/brian-joseph-page. Accessed 6 July 2020.