HOUSTON -- There are disturbing new details in the death of a pregnant mother. On Friday morning her estranged husband, Matt Sowders, appeared in probable cause court where a judge found reason to charge him with capital murder.
On Thursday, Texas EquuSearch volunteers found the body believed to be that of 26-year old Melissa Sowders in Cypress Creek. They had been searching for her since Saturday.
Within hours, U.S. Marshals, Harris County Sheriff’s deputies and members of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force took Matt Sowders, 28, into custody at his parents’ home in Humble.
They had guns drawn as he walked out from the house with his father.
“Get on the ground,” marshals yelled, and both Sowders’ immediately did.
In court early Friday morning, prosecutors said two women heard separate confessions on the day of Melissa Sowders’ disappearance a week ago.
One said she even saw what she believed to be a lifeless body from the doorway of the Sowders’ apartment when she went to visit.
“When she looked past [Matt] towards the hallway she observed what she believed to be the feet and lower legs of a female lying on the floor of the apartment,” the prosecuting attorney said.
That witness then called Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies and next called Matt Sowders with a deputy on the line. Prosecutors said Sowders admitted on the phone to killing his wife.
The other witness said she received a visit.
“She said that the defendant told her he had strangled Melissa to death after she pulled a gun on him. He told her he blacked out. When he came to, she was dead. He said he stuffed her into a large black trash can and transported her to Cypress Creek. And there he submerged her body,” the prosecutor said.
On Friday a judge denied Sowders’ bond. His attorney tells 11 News he is shocked by the allegations. If convicted, his client could receive life in prison or even the death penalty.
It is exactly the nightmare scenario that Melissa Sowders’ friends and relatives have feared since she vanished the day after Christmas.
Her boyfriend, Jason Sanford, said she had dropped him off for work at 6:15 a.m. that day and then went to meet her ex and their youngest daughter at a McDonald’s on FM 1960 near Kuykendahl Road.
Deputies later found Sowders’ white Honda Accord on Interstate 45 near Richey Road.
“She told me, ‘Okay, I’m here. He’s here. I’m going to get off the phone,’” Sanford said. “Every time she had to meet with him to see her baby she was always worried about it. He scares her.”
The Sowders had four children together who stayed with the husband’s family. The 2-month old she was pregnant with was Sanford’s.
An autopsy is being performed on the body found in Cypress Creek to confirm its identity, but friends and family are confident it is that of Melissa's. Prosecutors said tattoos on the body matched that of the missing woman's.