Family thanks FOX 26 for helping find missing Houston man

A Houston family found their missing loved one thanks to a tip from someone who saw their story on the FOX 26 series ‘The Missing.’

Jardone Sam had been missing 15 days. FOX 26 was the only station to cover a prayer vigil held by family searching for him. Jardone’s aunt, Tonya Williams, now tells FOX 26, they received a tip shortly after the story aired.

The Missing: Pauline Diaz, Texas mom vanishes from H-E-B shift

Williams says they received a call from a man who recognized Jardone after seeing the FOX 26 report. He said Jardone had been outside a restaurant on I-59 and Kirby Drive several nights in a row.

When the family rushed to the location, Williams says Jardone was nowhere to be found. They spoke to people in the area to again spread the word.

Soon, she says they got another call from someone who said they’d just seen Jardone blocks away at a gas station off Kirby Drive and Westheimer Road.

THE MISSING: Where is Joshua Davis? Texas 18-month-old missing for a decade

Williams says family jumped in their cars and caravanned that way. They abruptly stopped and jumped out of their vehicles.

"We saw Jardone on the corner, kind of directing traffic," says Williams. "And we knew that he was out of it. He was lost, he was confused; he did not know where he was."

Williams explains Jardone lives with long-term mental illness. 

"Anyone who deals with mental illness knows that when a patient is well, they do not want to take the medicine any longer. They feel they don't need it. Jardone has recognized in the past there are some issues, but does not quite want to grasp the severity."


The family took Jardone to Harris County Psychiatric Center, where Williams says he’d received treatment before. She says after five hours, they left with Jardone, who’d refused treatment.

Then, another moment of panic: on the way home with his parents, Jardone got out of the car at a red light and began to walk away.

Family was able to get Jardone back with them. Then, Williams says the family applied for a mental health warrant and got him treatment.

"This scenario could have definitely been a different scenario after 15 days of being on the street," says Williams. "We are so grateful to God, we're grateful to the community, and we're grateful to FOX 26."

In 2021, 46,581 missing person reports were filed in Texas according to the Texas Center for the Missing.

THE MISSING: Jared Chavis, an Air Force vet vanishes in Houston

FOX 26 launched our series ‘The Missing’ in the wake of the 2021 national fascination with the case of Gabby Petito, a missing woman in Utah. Noticing the interest people had in solving her case, FOX 26 partnered with the Texas Center for the Missing to help try to bring public support to some of the thousands of missing person cases that sit unsolved in Texas.

"My prayer is that families never give up," says Williams. "Don't give up. Always be persistent. Do whatever you have to do."

The Houston Police Department tells FOX 26 they have 11 detectives handling thousands of cases per year. Williams says her family filed a report, but took it upon themselves to find Jardone.

"Once we filed that missing person report, we gathered flyers, we gathered the entire family, we searched the community, we posted on social media," says Williams.

THE MISSING: Cold case investigators work to close unsolved crimes

Williams also hopes their story opens eyes to what may really be going on for someone seen struggling on the streets.

"Sometimes families don't realize the severity of mental illness, and when you see a person that has mental illness, you initially probably think that they're on drugs," Williams points out, who says the incident was eye-opening for many members of her family who finally realized the severity of Jardone’s illness.

If someone you know needs mental health support but does not have insurance, Harris County’s Harris Center provides mental health services at low cost. Their 24-hour Crisis Line is 713-970-7000.

Want to help find other missing Texas loved ones? Learn about other families still searching by visiting The Missing page or by subscribing to the FOX 26 Youtube Channel.