Estranged husband of missing pregnant woman charged with capital murder

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by Tiffany Craig, Malini Basu & KHOU.com staff

KHOU 11 News Houston

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 9:06 PM

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The estranged husband of 26-year-old Melissa Sowders was arrested Thursday evening in Humble, Texas.

Matt Sowders, 28, is charged with capital murder of his pregnant wife who vanished the day after Christmas.

U.S. Marshals, Harris County Sheriff's deputies and members of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force took Sowders into custody outside his parents' home.

They were waiting with guns drawn when Sowders walked out of the house with his father.

"Get on the ground," marshals yelled and Sowder's father immediately complied.

"We were going to the bond place because we heard the warrant's been issued," Sowder's father said. "We were trying to comply."

Eqqusearch volunteers found a body in Cypress Creek Thursday morning where they have been searching for Melissa Sowders.

An autopsy will be performed, but investigators and family members are convinced it is her.

Her boyfriend, Jason Sanford, said investigators called him shortly after the body was found.

"The detective called me asking what kind of tattoos were on her and so I explained a couple of the tattoos that I could remember, stars that were on her side and a tattoo of Matt's name on her waistline," Sanford said.

Sowders vanished last Thursday after dropping Sanford off at work at 6:15 a.m.

Sanford said Sowders was supposed to go meet her ex-husband and their youngest daughter at the McDonald’s on FM 1960 near Kuykendahl Road.

"She told me, 'Okay, I'm here. He's here, I’m going to get off the phone.' Every time she had to meet with him to see her baby, she was always worried about it. He scares her," said Sanford said.

Deputies found Sowders' white Honda Accord Friday night on Interstate 45 near Richey Road.

Texas Equusearch had been searching the area along Cypress Creek since Saturday.

"It's been a long week," Sanford said. "And now a little hope, a little relief... it's hard."

Sowders was two months pregnant with Sanford's baby.

Her relatives rushed to the scene after hearing a body had been found.

"I just appreciate everything that Eqqusearch has done," said Amber Newsom, Melissa's younger sister.  She said she will cherish memories of the last time she saw Melissa and her children at a local park.

If you have any information about the case, contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit at (713) 967-5810 or Crime Stoppers at (713) 222-TIPS.

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