Search continues for missing teen
The search for a missing Graham teenager continued this week with no apparent break in sight.
Sheriff Bryan Walls said despite an intense media campaign over the weekend, the sheriff’s department received no tips that could lead them to 16-year-old Bridgett Herrard.
Despite not getting any useful information, Walls said the sheriff’s office was continuing to work hard to find Herrard.
“We’re working on it,” Walls said. “We interviewed four people this morning. Nobody called all weekend. We got the FBI, Texas Rangers and the DPS Missing Persons Unit involved this morning.”
Herrard went missing Dec. 23 and has not been seen or heard from since.
Herrard is listed as 5-3, weighing 100 pounds with blue eyes and dark brown hair.
Walls said the missing teen was last seen at a home on Edwards Road just outside the Graham city limits. Her family reported her missing three days later, and sheriff’s deputies began an extensive search.
Interviews with Herrard’s family and friends got investigators no closer to finding out where Herrard might be. What deputies did find out, however, made them concerned about Herrard. Investigator Tim Bay said the fact that Herrard has not answered her cell phone or even opened text messages was especially alarming.
“Everyone is saying it’s very unusual for her not to call,” Bay said. “Her cell phone is going directly to voice mail.”
Deputy Chris Isbell said like most teenagers Herrard lived on her cell phone, returning calls and answering text messages almost immediately.
“I think the cell phone is unusual,” Isbell said. “Everyone says she calls back. They’ve sent her text messages and after so long they expire.
“One guy said he sent her two text messages that came back expired. So they haven’t even been looked at.”
Isbell said deputies have no idea what may have happened to Herrard or where she may have gone, but they hope someone can help them find her.
“We just want to make sure she’s alive and OK,” Isbell said.
Deanna Warrick has been friends with Herrard for the last nine years, and she said she is not optimistic Herrard will be found alive.
“I think she went into a residence and never came back out — at least not alive,” Warrick said.
Warrick said problems with drugs have cast a shadow on Herrard for years. While the girl was not always a user, she always had to deal with the drug culture. Warrick met Herrard when the girl was 7 and almost became a mother to the child.
“Her mother would leave her with me for months at a time, and as soon as I was getting attached, she would take her away and put her with someone else,” Warrick said.
Despite the difficulties, a friendship followed with Warrick looking out for the girl whenever she could. That friendship led to a strange call a few months ago.
“When I first got involved with her again in the last few months, she had gotten arrested for drug paraphernalia and called me to see if I had some housework she could do to pay the tickets,” Warrick said.
In the week before Christmas, Warrick came to Herrard’s rescue again, letting the teenager stay at her home two nights.
During that time, Warrick said she saw glimpses of the little girl she met nine years earlier.
“She was optimistic,” she said. “She said she wanted a fresh start. She wanted to be happy and wanted to be a little girl again.”
But something happened before those dreams could come true.
“She stayed with me two evenings,” Warrick said. “Basically, she was in safe places for a week before she was allowed to babysit and disappeared.”
Initially, Warrick said she was not too worried.
“She had run away once, but she always kept in touch with people,” Warrick said.
When repeated calls and text messages went unanswered, Warrick began looking for answers.
“She didn’t always answer my calls, but she always texted me, and she always had her phone charged,” Warrick said.
What Warrick found as she began searching for Herrard has left her terrified.
“I’ve heard so many rumors,” she said. “I think that baby’s dead.”
While Warrick is expecting the worst, she remains hopeful that Herrard will be found safe.
“My prayer is that wherever Bridgett is that she’s in God’s hands, whether that’s here or there,” she said.