Missing 37-year-old woman found dead near Donna

Police investigators examine a crime scene on E 14 1/2 N road Saturday, Aug 8, 2020, north of Donna. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

The body of a missing 37-year-old woman, who authorities say disappeared after she was seen being forced into a vehicle by her husband, was found late Friday evening, Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said via social media.

Melissa Banda

According to Guerra, investigators with the sheriff’s office, McAllen police and the FBI found Melissa Banda’s “lifeless body” at about 11:33 p.m. east of FM 493 and Mile 14 1/2 North near Donna.

Guerra said the sheriff’s major crimes unit is leading the case, which is now a capital murder investigation.

In a news release Friday, McAllen police said they were called to the 7100 block of North Seventh Street at around 3:49 p.m. Thursday and were informed that her husband, 40-year-old Richard Ford, allegedly forced Banda into an SUV.

That vehicle, a rented white Dodge SUV, was found at 9:32 p.m. Thursday near or at Beach Access 5 on South Padre Island. Ford was also located there and arrested by Cameron County law enforcement authorities.

McAllen police say Ford was taken into custody on two warrants for violation of a court order and harassment. On June 30, Banda had reported to McAllen police that Ford called her that morning in violation of a protection order, which prohibited him from making any contact with her.

Investigators search the area where Melissa Banda’s body was discovered late last Friday night at the dead end street of Mile 14 1/2 North near Donna. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)