Public Asked for Help After Days-Long Search for Missing Hiker 

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – A 23-year-old hiker from the Fort Worth area went missing somewhere on the 20-mile trail between Ratcliff and the Neches Bluff last Thursday, April 18, and after a several-day, multi-agency search, Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove is asking for the public’s help in locating the young man. 

Hargrove released a statement Tuesday, May 23 regarding the incident:

“A 23-year-old white male, Vincent Berardi, was reported missing from his home in the Ft. Worth, Texas area. His parents said he was last seen on the door bell cam leaving his home at approximately 5:40 a.m. on May 19, wearing a red polo shirt and tan khakis. In the past, Vincent was known to frequent the Davy Crockett National Forest in Ratcliff. At approximately 2 p.m., his black 2012 Hyundai Elantra was located at the parking lot of the “Old” Ranger Station on F.M. 227 in Ratcliff. Berardi was not there. 


At approximately 2:50 p.m., Houston County Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Office personal, Search and Rescue, Kennard and Ratcliff Volunteer Fire Departments were called into action. Teams searched his favorite area, the “4–C” hiking trail from the Ranger Station to the Neches Bluff site near State Highway 21 East. A Department of Public Safety FLIR (forward looking infrared radar) aviation unit was called and flew the area with no sighting of Berardi. 

Authorities do not believe there is foul play involved at this time. It is believed Berardi may have had a friend pick him up and been driven to a different location. Berardi is 5’9″ and weighs 180 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. 

Gene Kellum from Houston County Search and Rescue (SAR) reported on the massive effort put in to locate Berardi, telling The Messenger the trail from Ratcliff to Neches Bluff is about twenty miles – a trail Berardi was familiar with. Kellum said the recent storms might have made the trail harder to follow, but along with aviation and drones, 70 personnel from SAR and other agencies worked well into the night over several days without finding a trace of the young man. 

If you think you may have seen Berardi, please contact the Houston County Sheriff’s Office at 936-544-2862 or the Ft. Worth Police Department at 817-392-4200. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected] 

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