CRYSTAL BEACH — Investigators say they are close to solving the cold case killing of Bridgette Gearen, a 28-year-old Orange County woman who was sexually assaulted, strangled and beaten to death before her body was found near a Crystal Beach shoreline on July 15, 2007.
Lt. Tommy Hansen, who works as a cold case homicide investigator for the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, said detectives have identified three people suspected of being involved in Gearen’s death. Investigators hope to present the capital murder case to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office within the next 30 days.
“We are very close — one or two interviews to do,” Hansen said. “We feel very good we’re going to make charges.”
Gearen, a legal secretary at a Beaumont law firm, was staying with friends and her 2-year-old daughter at a rented house in Crystal Beach in July 2007.
Just before midnight on July 14, Gearen stepped outside of the house. When her friends followed Gearen outside seconds later, the young mother had disappeared.
Campers discovered her partially clothed body in the water near Monkhouse Drive shortly after 6 a.m. the next day.
Police said she was sexually assaulted before being killed.
The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office has investigated her death for seven years, but Hansen said several significant breakthroughs were made in the last year and a half.
“It’s been a work in progress,” he said. “We probably got some really good interviews and breaks in the last year.”
Last year, a man from Southeast Texas who is considered a person of interest in the killing was jailed on unrelated charges, Hansen said.
Investigators are confident they have built a strong case to hand to prosecutors, Hansen said. Suspects in the case know they are being investigated, Hansen said.
“They know we’re coming for them,” he said.