KARNACK — Family and friends of Howard “Howie” Waldon of Uncertain spent Good Friday combing the county roads of Harrison and Marion counties in search of the missing man.
The 34-year-old was last seen leaving Sammy’s Primetime Restaurant and Tavern in Jefferson around midnight April 13. He notified his wife shortly after that he was heading to their home in Uncertain.
Family said he never made it home, nor did he show up for work Monday.
“Today isn’t Day One, honestly,” said Waldon’s niece, Lakin Gamble, who co-organized Friday’s search with Waldon’s wife, Amanda Evans Waldon. “Everybody’s been out running, but today is the first day we’re organizing and sticking to roadways, just making sure we’ve got an accurate account of those roadways and anything that we missed.”
At 10:30 a.m., the two were joined by other relatives, rescue groups and community members at Family Dollar in Karnack to begin the day’s search.
“They’ve been doing it day and night, and they’ve already been on the river, but today we are getting organized,” Gamble said Friday. She said the family also already has searched near bridges.
Searchers included the Cajun Navy Relief and Rescue, which traveled from Louisiana with boats in tow. Gamble said the nonprofit search and rescue group will search waterways today.
Karnack’s own Bracey Ranch was also on the scene, using its horses and dogs.
Gamble made sure all groups were equipped with air horns, bug spray, water and other supplies needed for the extensive search.
Relatives said Waldon was driving his 2016 blue-gray four-door Dodge truck the night of his disappearance.
Family members have obtained records of his last cellphone signal pings to assist them.
On Friday, the search team broke into groups, exploring areas that were within the 10-mile radius of where Waldon’s cellphone signal last pinged.
“We’re doing our best with what we got,” said Gamble, who said they ran into some difficulties securing the details because the phone was a prepaid version. “We’re trying to find some more information about where pings are, so that we can track down a better location to be, but so far, that’s just kind of where we’re at.”
A map given to searchers Friday suggested that Waldon would have turned off Texas 43 going toward Karnack if he was headed home from the Texas 49 route in Jefferson.
“The ping begins around 1 mile past the (Texas) 43 turn,” the map notes.
Coordinators recommended some areas to search in the event Waldon had missed his turn on Texas 43 and continued down Texas 49. Bracey Ranch, for instance, searched narrow Marion County Road 3416 in Smithland, 11 miles outside Karnack and 13 miles outside Jefferson.
All teams were encouraged to travel the entire length of the designated roads and to mark any roads not listed.
Amanda Waldon thanked all who have rallied by her side.
“Thank you. I appreciate it more than you know,” Howie Waldon’s tearful wife said. “The whole family and my community have come together. That’s the only reason I’ve made it through right now.”
Waldon is described as 5 foot, 5 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, with short black hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a red T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.
“He probably had a hat on,” his wife said. He has a sleeve tattoo on both arms and tattoos on his legs and back.
Anyone with information on Waldon’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Jefferson Police Department at (903) 665-2432, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office at (903) 923-4000 or private investigator Peter Haviland at (281) 704-9162.