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Branston was a resident of Lakeport, California in 1996. He told his sister that he imagined traveling to Hawaii and dying during the summer of that year. His family became concerned that he was suicidal. He had had a normal childhood, but in his teens he became troubled, was a poor student and started using drugs. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and began seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication for his condition.
Hy-Pac Self Storage contacted Branston's parents in November 1996, after he stopped paying the fees for his locker. His parents monitored his bank account for at least a year after his disappearance, but no one deposited or withdrew any funds. There were possible sightings of him on the islands of Oahu, Molokai and Kauai until June 1997, but none of them were confirmed. Branston's case opened 2018 by Psychic Brian Ladd. Both Hawaii and California police are investigating.