Missing woman's family wonders about kidnap suspect

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on March 15, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 16 at 1:37 PM

There's no one in Shonda Townsend's family who hasn't heard about the Jeff Maxwell kidnap case.

It's all they can think about.

Townsend disappeared mysteriously last year near her home. Maxwell's alleged kidnapped victim lives just 15 minutes away.

"Just gets in your mind, you know?" said Dalton Townsend, whose daughter vanished in July. "Just lay awake at night, wondering."

Shonda sent a text shortly before she disappeared to say she was minutes away from her house here in Gibtown.

She never arrived.

Family members are certain Shonda would never have left her two-year-old son.

"I have a feeling somebody got her, took her off, done something to her," her father said.

Now, Townsend wonders if that somebody could be Jeffrey Maxwell.

Parker County investigators arrested him on Saturday for abducting and holding a woman hostage for days. They say he also burned her home.

That victim lived just 15 minutes away from the Townsends.

"It would be in two small areas, so it just kind of looks weird," said Shelby Townsend, Shonda's sister.

The Townsends say they have not been contacted by investigators in the Maxwell case, but Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler says deputies are looking at other, similar missing persons cases.

Those cases include Amelia Smith, a wife and mother who disappeared in 2000. Like the case in which Maxwell is now accused, her car and house were burned.

"There is some speculation on that," Sheriff Fowler said.

Maxwell was also a suspect in the disappearance of his then-wife, Martha Martinez Maxwell, in 1992. He had previously been accused of torturing and sexually assaulting her.

That case never made it to trial.

Martinez Maxwell's brother, Javier Martinez, told News 8 that he "wouldn't be surprised" if there are other victims.

Investigators took more than 100 items from Jeff Maxwell's home near Corsicana. They say, based on his preparations, the crime was carefully thought out.

That's one reason there is concern that he may have other victims.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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