It will be a year next week since Bridgette Gearen walked out the door

of a Crystal Beach cabin ahead of her friends, looking forward to a

midnight ride along the sand.

That was the last time her friends saw Gearen alive.


28-year-old from Orange got that ride, as witnesses saw her enter a

dark, small to mid-size SUV, but were not able to tell if it was

voluntary or by force. Authorities believe she met with more than one


The next morning around 6 on July 15, Gearen’s body was

found partially clothed, beaten and strangled near the water in the

Monkhouse Road area.

Autopsy results indicated sexual assault and

blunt force trauma.

Witnesses reported screams, but could not say if

they came from Gearen. Authorities have received many leads, according

to officials.

“We do have one or two persons of interest that we are

looking closely at,” said Lt. Tommy Hansen, lead investigator. “This is

a very open investigation.”

Galveston had two homicides this week,

so officers were somewhat busy for interviews Monday, but Hansen said

he had a two-foot stack of files in the Gearen case on his desk. “This

one haunts me,” he said. “Somebody knows something … somebody from

the Golden Triangle … this case isn’t closed by any means.”


did receive “a few things,” he said, after requesting photographs or

video taken around the time of the murder.

However, nothing viewed was

from Gearen’s reported location, so detectives still request any

information from the public, which can be submitted anonymously.


daughter Kyra was 2 at the time the murder. Now living with her father,

Kyra still recognizes her mother in pictures, but doesn’t have an

understanding of what happened. “A bad man took her,” is what her

father Brandon Portie told the child.

Bridgette’s mother Pam Kimball, ” … is taking it pretty hard,” said Leesa Gearen, Bridgette’s aunt.


is not the first child Kimball has lost. Her oldest son Bobby Goodson

was run over by a car at age 19 or 20 some 10 years ago.

“Out of three kids, she’s only got one left, and he’s a Marine, so it’s understandable that she’s shaky,” said Leesa.


Kyra, Bridgette also cared for her grandfather, Jimmy Wayne Gearen, who

ironically died six months to the day after his granddaughter did.


away at the wheel of his truck,” said Leesa. It is believed he suffered

a heart attack while driving in Newton County. The elder Gearen was 74

at the time of his death.

“He never did kick back,” said Leesa referring to the fact that he never got over Gearen’s murder.

As for Leesa, she is constantly on the case.

“I talk to [detectives] all the time to let them know we haven’t given up … to make sure they don’t give up.”

“We get hits all the time and turn them over to the police. We’ve gotten lots of stuff that I can’t say,” said Leesa.

She has also hired private investigator Sue Garcia of Port Arthur.

praised the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office. “Galveston is doing a

fine job. I have the highest respect for Lt. Hansen,” she said. “This

is not a cold case. No one has forgotten Bridgette.”
Authorities ask

the public for help in locating the late model, dark blue, black or

gray, small to mid-size SUV, similar in size to a Honda CRV. It is

believed there was a spare tire in the rear and a third brake light

mounted in the center above the window, fairly clean and at “factory


“It didn’t have fancy wheels or any ‘bling,'” said Hansen.


with photographs or videos taken July 14, 2007, in the Crystal Beach

area that may hold clues, or any other information “no matter how

little” may call the Galveston deputies at (409) 766-2222 or

1-866-248-8477. Call Garcia at (409) 549-9497 or e-mail

There is a $25,000 reward for information

leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Gearen’s

murder. As the search continues, Bridgette’s Aunt Leesa sends a message

to her niece: “We love you, we miss you and we WILL NOT give up until

they’re found.” 

Garcia adds that to those responsible for Bridgette’s murder, ” … it’s only a matter of time.”

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.