Crystal Beach Murder Investigation Coming Up Empty

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GALVESTON, Texas — Authorities investigating the rape and murder of a 28-year-old mother on a popular stretch of beach near Galveston said they need the public's help to jump-start their stalled case.

Bridgette Lynn Gearen disappeared late July 14, around the time she and some friends staying at a beach house were leaving to take a late-night drive, officials said. Campers found her beaten and strangled body in the Crystal Beach surf early the next morning.

Family members joined investigators at a Tuesday news conference to draw attention to the case. Gearen, a legal secretary, left behind a 2-year-old daughter, who was also on the beach trip.

"For the sake of her, her daughter and her family members, please send in that information," said Gearen's brother, Jimmy Goodson, 27.

"Quite frankly, we've got zip to go on," said Galveston County sheriff's Maj. Ray Tuttoilmondo.

On the night she disappeared, Gearen stepped outside the beach house alone, Tuttoilmondo said. Her friends inside the house heard her shut the door, then the opening and closing of a rusty gate. She vanished in the 90 seconds it took her friends to follow her outside.

"Given the nature of this case, somebody out there knows something," he said. "Somebody out there heard something. Somebody out there is talking about this."

The brutality of Gearen's death suggests it was not the killer's first crime, Lt. Tommy Hansen said. Investigators have ruled out several suspects, leading them to believe it was a random act and that Gearen was in "the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.

Investigators are asking for people to submit photos or videos that were taken on Crystal Beach on July 14 and July 15.

"If there is personal stuff they want to take out, that's fine," Hansen said. "Someone may have seen it and thought it was a domestic dispute."

Tuttoilmondo said the sheriff's office has received more than 100 tips, but hasn't turned up a suspect.

Crystal Beach business owners were offering a $5,000 award for information leading to the arrest of a suspect.