Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies and volunteers have been searching the area around Interstate 45 just north of FM 1960 in northwest Harris County. It was at a McDonald's in that area around 11am Thursday that 26-year-old Melissa Rene Sowders was last seen.
Sowders' car was found abandoned Friday night in a transport company parking lot on the North Freeway just north of Richie Road, near Cypress Creek.
Saturday's search efforts centered around Cypress Creek and beneath a bridge there.
Sowders' family is still hopeful she will come home alive. Her father is clutching every last word she wrote on his Christmas card.
"Love you guys. Sorry I haven't been around much before," he read. "But now that I'm with Jason, I will be around a lot more. I missed you guys. Merry Christmas."
He last saw his daughter Christmas Day, just hours before she vanished.
"It makes me feel really saddened; deeply," the father said.
Investigators said Sowders went to the McDonald's on FM 1960 near I-45 to meet her estranged husband and pick up her four children.
"This isn't her character. She doesn't just disappear," cousin Michelle said, adding that the family hasn't rested since Sowders' mysterious disappearance. "Had a rough night; nobody really slept. We're just anxious to find her."
All day Saturday, Texas EquuSearch volunteers looked for Sowders on foot, by boat and by ATV along and near Cypress Creek.
"Naturally we want to bring her home safe, get her back to her family," Frank Black with EquuSearch said.
Crews scanned the bottom of the creek, and a helicopter flew overhead to do the same.
Sowders' boyfriend, Jason, arrived at the search scene. The expectant father is also anxious and hopeful.
"My concern is that I hope that she turns up safe," Sowders' father said.
HCSO homicide detectives said they believe foul play is involved. Crews planned to resume the search for Sowders on Sunday.
Anyone with information about her disappearance is asked to contact the Harris County Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit at 713-967-5810 or call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
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