Search for missing elderly man in Rye ends in tragedy

A welfare concern called in to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, by concerned family members of 74-year-old Verne Leroy Erdman later developed into a missing person report due to circumstances of Erdman’s absence from his home on RD 2687 in Rye, Texas.

Responding Sheriff’s Deputy Reid Kenagy said that Erdman left personal effects very neatly arranged in his home and was last seen walking into a wooded area near his home where a gunshot was later reported to have been heard. A preliminary search of the perimeter was conducted by Dep. Kenagy but the results were negative.

Later in the day, family members contacted Director Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch requesting their professional assistance in the search for Erdman. Resources and manpower were pulled together for a search to begin the following morning.

Early on Christmas Eve morning, TES Search Coordinator Chuck Monteith established a Command Post at the Fuel Max on SH 146 in Rye and immediately assigned the volunteer searchers to separate sections of the wooded areas.

According to TES Case Manager Frank Black, within 30 minutes of the search, one of the search teams located Verne Erdman in the woods approximately 50 yards from his home deceased from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Judge Cody Parrish arrived at the scene to conduct the inquest and he also ordered an autopsy, which will also confirm identification.

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