Brittney Schilling doesn’t sugar coat it; she and her younger brother Brian Sullivan fought constantly as kids.
“I think we probably drove my mother crazy,” Brittany told Dateline. “But then at the same time, it’s like we were a team. I remember one time he shaved his head and my mother was going to be furious. He hid in the closet and I would sneak him food.”
Brittany hasn’t had her teammate for nine years – since the day Brian mysteriously disappeared. The then 19-year-old, who had just finished his first year at a local community college near his home in Rochester, New York, was last seen at a Burger King in the early hours of July 8, 2007.
But now, almost a decade later, justice could be close. Monroe County Sheriff investigator Scott Peters, who took over Brian’s case in 2010, tells Dateline a suspect has been named.
“We believe Brian met with foul play, yes,” Peters told Dateline. “We are one key piece away from solving the case.”
Peters is hoping the person who holds that one key piece will come forward. “We have a general idea of what happened, from this suspect’s acquaintances and friends. Maybe someone out there will read this and bring us the information we need to make an arrest.”
Everything seemed normal in the days prior to Brian’s disappearance, family members say. Brian, who had a passion for music, had just bought hundreds
of dollars of musical equipment. His parents had planned a big family dinner of ribs, Brian’s favorite, for Sunday the 8th. And his sister Brittney had recently announced she was expecting a baby.
“He was just so excited to be an uncle,” recalls Brittney. “He was thinking about if he wanted to get a job or wanted to go back for another year of college. There wasn’t anything wrong that we knew of.”
Brian spent Saturday, July 7, with a close friend. He returned home late that evening, family members say. The morning of the eighth, a woman at a nearby Burger King remembers seeing Brian buy breakfast there. A receipt shows Brian was at the fast-food drive-through at 5:38 a.m.
The next day, his 1995 red Pontiac Sunfire was discovered abandoned not too far away near a wooded area. Inside was his debit card and cell phone charger.
Despite a positive attitude over the years, the family’s process of living with a missing loved one hasn’t been an easy one. “It took a really long time for my parents to leave the house,” Brittney told Dateline. “They were worried they’d miss a phone call, or a knock from him or someone who knew what happened.”
The Sullivan family has turned their heartache into motivation. In the years since Brian disappeared, they’ve held dozens of fundraisers to raise money for several projects to help those missing in Monroe County.
Brian’s parents have been able to use some of the proceeds to send several investigators to various national conferences to learn the best practices in responding to missing and unidentified person cases. The feedback from officials about the trips has been outstanding.
And this year, the family is working to pay for a search and rescue dog to aid in cases like Brian’s. The puppy, currently in training, attended the family’s event this past Friday.
“There are so many missing person cases in our area, it’s staggering. Every missing person needs to be found, and us helping may keep other families from suffering the way we do,” said Brittany.
If you have any information regarding Brian’s case, please contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at (585) 753-4900 or the Crime Stoppers tip line at (585) 423-9300.