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A Texas man has been charged with kidnapping his ex-wife after the mother of three's “lifeless” body was found in a ditch.
Richard Ford, 40, is now facing charges of aggravated kidnapping in connection with the case; police allege he forced his ex-wife Melissa Banda, 37, into a rented SUV and drove off with her, according to local station KRGV.
McAllen Police said in a statement that they received a call about a disturbance at around 3:49 p.m. Thursday. When they arrived, witnesses told them that Ford had “forced” Banda into a white Dodge SUV and took off with her.
Cameron County law enforcement officers spotted the rented vehicle near Beach Access 5 at South Padre Island, Texas just after 8 p.m. that night, but when they arrested Ford there was no sign of Banda, police said.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra announced on Twitter that they had discovered Banda’s “lifeless” body the following night at around 11:33 p.m. just east of FM 493.
Sgt. Frank Medrano, public information officer for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, told Oxygen.com Banda had been found in a ditch in what he described as a “rural area.”
He declined to provide further details about how the 37-year-old died, citing the ongoing investigation.
No murder charges have been filed in the case to date.
“We are working on the case and we have several follow-ups right now that we are conducting before we actually charge the suspect,” Medrano said.
Cindy Banda, who identified herself as the victim’s sister, also confirmed Banda’s death on Facebook.
“Sister you were my everything. God always takes the GOOD Angels n I’m grateful for the time he gave me with you,” she wrote. “I love you so much but I know you will be watching over us. You were the best sister anyone could ask for.”
Police have said Melissa Banda had a restraining order in place against her ex-husband at the time of the alleged kidnapping.
On June 30, Banda called police to report that Ford had called her and “stayed quiet on the line” despite a protection order in place that prevented him from contacting her.
Ford was arrested on Feb. 29 on allegations that he had assaulted a family member, according to jail records obtained by The Monitor.
He previously pleaded guilty in 2002 to attempting to commit murder and had been charged with assault in 1998, the paper reported.
Ford is currently being held on $2.5 million bond and could face additional charges.
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