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The Ring of Silence

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

We all have something in our lives that is done with a routine. It could be anything, from a certain time of the week we go grocery shopping to the time we wake up in the morning or the route we take every day to work. There is always something that seems to be consistent. We don’t realize we do these things the same way every day or weekly. For one young mother her routine on Sundays was to phone her parents, that lived several states away. Every Sunday evening their phone would ring at a specific time, until one Sunday it didn’t.

Paula and her "munchkin" Brandon

Firstly, I want to thank Mary, Paula’s sister, and Brandon’s aunt for speaking with me about their cases. It has been decades since she last laid eyes on them. She can only hope that one day they will be found, and this nightmare will end.

Huge thank you to Light The Way for bringing this case to my attention.

Paula McGrath was born October 30, 1976, in Greece to her parents, Mary and Regis McGrath. Paula grew up in Athens with two older siblings, a brother and sister. Her eldest sister, also named Mary, reminisced about brushing her sister’s hair when they were younger. Although there was a decade between them, they had a good sibling relationship. The McGrath family was a closeknit one, as Mary described it as, “very blessed”. When the family moved to the United States, they settled in Florida. Paula was a good student and was exceptional in the mathematics department. She also played sports, t-ball to be specific. Graduating from high school in Orlando. She hoped to enroll in college someday with her eyes set on a degree in accounting.

Paula would reconnect with a friend she first met in school while both were in Germany, Lance Wade. Paula and Lance both came from military families. Both families would eventually settle in the States and in Florida. Lance was in the United States Air Force, and soon, Paula and Lance fell head over heels for each other. They married in the late nineties. The whirlwind romance quickly dwindled as the military kept them apart. Lance was ordered to Korea and during this time Paula stayed with her sister in St Agustine Florida. She didn't let the distance between her, and her new husband get her down though, she was headstrong and took that step to better her life. She enrolled in college. When Lance returned from his duties he was stationed in Georgia. For some time both Lance and Paula were able to live on base together. When the time was up to move off base, Lance found his family a nice apartment in Valdosta, Georgia. Paula was employed at Sam’s Club and was an exceptional employee, winning an award after her five-year milestone with the company. In July of 1999, the couple welcomed a baby boy named Brandon. Brandon was the apple of Paula’s eye and was adored by his family. He earned the nickname Munchkin.

That smile just melts your heart

Everything seemed to be coming together for the couple but, not everything was as it seemed. The distance and time between the couple cracked their marriage at the seam. Lance was transferred again, from the base in Georgia to one in South Carolina. Paula had to make the hard decision to stay with Brandon in Georgia because Sam’s Club could not transfer her position at that time. Money was going to be tight, especially without Lance. Paula’s landlord found a roommate for her. A college boy, who formed a friendship with Paula. Paula even allowed her roommate to use her vehicle when he needed it. Things were good and smooth sailing between the household. Paula’s employer, Sam’s Club, eventually came to her with a transfer, but this was to Kissimmee, Florida, not South Carolina. This was exciting because Paula’s parents lived there. Discussing the move with Lance the two came to an agreement that it would indeed be best if Paula and Brandon moved to Florida to be closer to her parents. At the end of October 2002, they would make that move. The move never came to fruition because Paula and Brandon would disappear, never resurfacing.

On Friday, October 11, 2002, Paula left work at Sam’s Club. On Sunday, October 13, at 6:30 PM Paula failed to call her parents. This weekly conversation was set up between the parents and Paula for years. It was their time to catch up on the week’s activities. They waited by the phone, but it never rang. On Monday October 14, 2002, Paula failed to show up to her shift. This immediately alarmed her supervisor, who sent a coworker over to Paula’s residence to check on her. They never received a response at the door. A few hours later, the supervisor sent another employee over to Paula’s home to see if there was anything different. Unfortunately, there was not. At this point the supervisor called the police. It is unknown how exactly the police entered Paula’s home but when they did, everything seemed normal. What was normal to them was not to her family. Paula’s roommate stated she left the other night with Brandon, and he hadn’t seen or heard from her since. Her car was still in the parking spot, which her roommate used over the weekend. This was the first time he realized something was amiss. It truly seemed like she stepped out for a moment and never returned. Her purse and keys were still in the home, as well as her glasses. She could not see without them, although she did wear contacts from time to time, she always kept her glasses on her. Brandon had a music tape that Paula would play for him to fall asleep, as well as his comfort blanket, he would clench ever so tightly with his little hands as he peacefully fell asleep every night. Both of those were still in the home. The only thing that was missing was Brandon’s car seat.

Since October 14, 2002, there has been no information to surface about their whereabouts. Paula had a set plan the following week to move to Florida to be closer to her parents. If things were falling apart around her, she only had one more week to look forward and to never look back. She was very happy with the position she held at Sam’s Club, and she never had any problems there. She had recently received an award for all her hard work and was looking forward to the transfer. Paula was separated from her husband and although her love life didn’t turn out the way she would have hoped, her focus was taking care of Brandon. She knew she would have to take on most of the parenting since Lance would still be in the military and she wanted Brandon to have the best life. If Paula changed her mind on the move to Florida and the transfer, why wouldn’t she just say something. More importantly why would she leave all her possessions behind? She would surely need them at some point. Whatever happened to Paula and Brandon, happened before the ring of silence.

Billboard set up from Paula & Brandon in 2022

If you have any information in the disappearance of Paula and Brandon Wade, reach out to Valdosta Police Department at 229-242-2606. No tip is too small, and you can remain anonymous. You can be the difference and the reason to bring this family closure.

Follow the X page, set up for Paula & Brandon (This page is run by Mary, Paula's sister)

Mary also has a website dedicated to finding her sister and nephew.

If you have a website, please help out by coping the banner on the website and pasting it to yours.

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