Divers Recover Body of Missing, Pregnant Texas Woman

Investigators suspect Melissa Sowders was a victim of foul play.

January 28, 2014, 7:42 AM

Jan. 02, 2014— -- A diving team has recovered a body believed to be that of a missing, pregnant 26-year-old Texas woman who is believed to have been a victim of foul play.

Melissa Rene Sowders disappeared the evening of Dec. 26. She was last seen at a McDonald's restaurant on interstate 45 in Harris County, where she was supposed to meet her ex-husband, Matthew Sowders, and their youngest daughter, according to the Harris County Sheriff's office.

Divers recovered the body in a creek close to Matthew Sowders' home. She was two months pregnant with boyfriend Jason Sanford's baby.

Detectives have questioned Matthew Sowders in connection with his ex-wife's disappearance. At this point he has not been named as a suspect in the case, but authorities are combing his truck for evidence.

Relatives say Sowders, who had three children with Melissa, abused her.

"As far as we know he has threatened her numerous times. He has had a knife to her throat before," Melissa's cousin Michelle Bierman told ABC News. "We think he just went off the edge when he found out she was two months pregnant with Jason's child."

According to Bierman, the children are believed to be in the custody of Matthew Sowders' parents.

"He wasn't ever abusive to the kids, only to Melissa," Bierman said.

Bierman believes Sowders took his ex-wife back to his home, or directly to the creek after their meeting at McDonald's.

"Everything they found is right next to Matt's house. The creek is pretty much his backyard," Bierman said.

Detectives told ABC's Houston affiliate KTRK that Matthew Sowders was not cooperating with the investigation. His attorney has denied he played any role in his estranged wife's disappearance, KTRK reported.

"Everybody in the family is just torn up." Bierman said. "All we think about is getting her home so we can give her a proper burial."

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