Linda Bridgeman & nephew

Linda Bridgeman and her nephew Kyle.

NELSONVILLE – On June 4, 2021, Linda Bridgeman was at her home in Nelsonville when her grandson Kyle said the last words she has since heard from him.

“I’ll see you tomorrow grandma, I love you.”

Kyle Bridgeman had lived with Linda since his mother died when he was in high school. Now, at 30, he was independent, yet still incredibly close with his grandmother, going out with friends but still seeing her daily to go grocery shopping or eat meals together.

Linda had no reason to be suspicious when Kyle left that evening with his friend, especially because her grandson had said that he was just going to his friend’s to buy a video game. However, as days passed and Kyle never returned, reached out or answered calls, she quickly became worried and reported him as a missing person.

As the community rallied to find Kyle, search parties were formed and fliers plastered over town. Golden Hearts A Voice 4 The Voiceless, a local nonprofit, volunteered their cadaver dogs, which immediately hit on his bedroom and followed his scent down the road until it abruptly stopped. Linda has a theory that this means that he was picked up in a car, but other than that, there haven’t been any answers.

“I’ve heard so many rumors,” Linda said, explaining her mixed feelings about Kyle’s case being spread on social media. “Rumors that there was a fight between two people and Kyle tried to break it up and he got shot. And then I heard that he had gotten killed by a gang. And then (that) he was shot and burned, and they hid his body. So we don’t really know what happened because those that we believed are involved keep telling the police the same story, and then one (of them) ran out of the state.”

The disappearance has spread like a wildfire on sites like Facebook and YouTube, and Linda feels that this has resulted in a worrying flood of information and rumors. It’s hard to differentiate between what stories are true and untrue. On top of that, Linda believes that discussing the case on social media may scare away even more those who may have been involved.

“Some people get on (Facebook) and make threatening comments, and I feel like that’s just pushing whomever this involved away,” Linda said. “I forgive whoever’s involved, because I don’t want them ruling my life for the rest of my life. But I do want justice for Kyle.”

Three months since Kyle’s disappearance, searches haven’t turned up anything, even with a $5,000 reward offered by his family. According to Linda, police are unable to move forward in prosecuting anyone for Kyle’s case unless they come up with a body, so Kyle is still labeled a missing person. Linda feels that the key to all of this must be whomever Kyle was hanging out with that night, and who left the state after his disappearance.

“I just can’t fathom the evil that’s out there,” Linda said. “These people, Kyle thought they were his friends. For not even one to step up and say, ‘Hey, this is what happened.’ I just don’t understand. Do they not have a soul, do they not have a conscience? It’s hard for me to fathom all of that, because Kyle was a good person.”

A candlelight vigil was held in Kyle’s honor, and a GoFundMe page has been created to raise money for Golden Hearts’ expenses. Linda also hopes to put together a large yard sale to raise money so that she can keep searching. Linda just wants to emphasize that if anyone knows anything or has any information, to please reach out or contact the Athens County Sheriff’s Department.

“If you know something, if you’re involved, tell somebody and have that person contact the police,” Linda said. “I don’t care who you are, I don’t want to know who you are, just let us know so we can go find Kyle and bring him home.”

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