Galveston County Sheriff’s Office still working to solve Gearen murder
Bridgette Gearen, 28, of Orange, like many single mothers wanted to escape the rigors of everyday life and when she got the chance headed to the beach with family and friends.
But, her July 2007 weekend getaway turned out to be deadly and a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Gearen and her daughter, who was 2 years old at the time, had driven to Crystal Beach to spend the night with friends in a rented beach house on Monkhouse Road. The area is commonly known by locals as “The Zoo.”
Just before midnight the group decided to go for a drive on the beach such to watch the surf under the stars. Gearen left her daughter in the care of others who decided to stay behind. She walked out the door never to be seen alive again by those who loved the young woman with bubbly personality. When she left she was wearing typical beachwear of a red halter top and blue jean shorts on her five feet three inch and 110 pound frame.
A few minutes later the group of people would also go outside for their ride on the beach, but Gearen was nowhere in sight. They searched all around the area, but she was gone.
After several hours, her friends became worried since they knew she would not be separated from Kyra for such a long time. So, they called the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.
By early morning, campers on the beach found her beaten and partially clothed body near the water’s edge. It was later determined the beating was very brutal as she fought for her life. In addition, she was raped before being strangled.
An autopsy would further reveal she was beaten with a blunt instrument. Her head and face suffered massive injury but her death was determined to be manual strangulation.
There were indications of a vicious fight which aided the collection of forensic evidence which will help in identifying those who killed her. It is believed there are three to five suspects involved in the murder case.
Investigators will not comment on the evidence collected but they have sent items to the DPS lab for analysis.
They have received some of the reports back and have sent more for analysis. Waiting on the reports has proven to be very frustrating with the large backlog of cases. Some of the analysis reports are still pending, according to Tommy Hansen of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives had no doubts the killer(s) would have had visible injuries on their body and immediately issued a press release in the local area. It was their hope anyone with the injuries or acting suspicious would be spotted and they would have their suspect.
The day after the murder, Galveston Police bloodhounds, the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse and Texas Equusearch combed miles of the beach and surround area. The following weekend they returned to do it all again. While others were sifting through the beach and sand dunes for evidence, deputies swarmed the small community talking to campers, residents and visitors to gather information and pass out flyers.
Now five years later, thousands of miles covered and after the many man-hours investigating the case, nobody has been arrested for Bridget Gearen’s murder.
Hansen was on call that weekend. It is the case he is determined to solve.
Hansen claims he has been in the business of solving cases for more than 30 year and he says this case is one of the most brutal he has seen. But adds, “This is by no means a cold case and it never has been. We’re coming and we’re coming hard.”
A big break in the case came when investigators talked to some people who had gathered at a bonfire on the night of the murder. They reported they had heard a woman scream and get into a dark colored SUV. However, the side of the vehicle blocked their view from seeing if she was forced.
Since then, the vehicle has been located and is “on radar” according to Hansen.
The suspects are being carefully watched as well.
Investigators are working to determine each person’s involvement. Some are local but others live out of state.
“They are connected in one way or another,” Hansen said.
Although several assailants involved was not good for Gearen, it will help investigators because it enhances the solvability. If only one person is involved then there may not be a weak link in the chain. However, when more than one person is involved, the chances of a weak link increases, according to Hansen.
The investigators have worked to confirm information from several different sources, Hansen said.
Finding Gearen’s killers has been a community wide effort.
Local business owners in Crystal Beach have gathered money to put up a reward fund of $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects involved in the murder of Gearen.
“The whole case has been about strategy,” Hansen said. But, Hansen intends to see it through until justice is served.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to call the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office at 866-248-8477.
“If you know anything, or just think you know anything, just give us a call,” Hansen said.