Cold case remains cold: New search leaves team empty-handed in missing person investigation

Published 1:50 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A new search was conducted over the weekend at the last known location of a Vernon Parish man who has been missing for two and a half years.

Detectives with the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office and its Narcotics Task Force partnered with members of the Community United Effort (CUE) Search & Rescue organization based out of Wilmington, N.C., to conduct an extensive search of an area in Sandy Hills that is believed to be the last known whereabouts of Bradley Stracener.

Stracener, 32, was last seen on Oct. 30, 2019. He had been visiting with friends in the Sandy Hill area before leaving that afternoon to return a car to his girlfriend who was about 10 miles away, but he never made it.

The car was found the next day, just a couple miles away from where Stracener had departed, near a leased hunting property by La. 10. Authorities said the car was found unlocked and with the keys in the passenger seat.

That area was the central location for the searches that continued through Saturday and Sunday, with teams bringing nearly a dozen specially-trained K9s, including cadaver dogs, through sometimes heavily wooded areas, but according to Sheriff Sam Craft the searched yielded no new information or evidence in the now cold case.

Though VPSO teams have conducted several searches of the area over the years, Craft said this weekend’s search was requested by Stracener’s family, who continue to hope for new information in a case that has yielded little evidence or substantial leads.

“The family contacted them (CUE) and they contacted us, and then we coordinated with them to get the plans put together,” Craft stated.

“VPSO has conducted several previous searches within the area. The additional resources provided by CUE and its volunteers are very much appreciated.”

Over the years, VPSO detectives have searched the areas connected with Stracener’s disappearance with the assistance of human recovery K9s from Red River Parish and other agencies, but no evidence has ever been found.

Craft said detectives looked into all tips and leads that initially came in on the case, but that nothing was “fruitful” and the case has now become cold.

In 2020, Crimestoppers began offering a $2,500 reward for information on the case.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Crimestoppers at 337-239-2233. All callers may remain anonymous.