Man charged with murder in death of missing wife appears in court

Her estranged husband was in court this morning, as we learned what investigators say led to yesterday's discovery of a body
January 4, 2014 12:50:51 PM PST
We're learning more about how investigators say a man killed his estranged wife, whose body was reportedly recovered Thursday.

Matthew Sowders is charged with capital murder in the death of Melissa Sowders. Our cameras were rolling a few hours after that discovery as he was taken into custody on Thursday.

"I think it was a little overdone. It was sensationalized."

Sowders' attorney, Dustin Neyland, saw it all go down on TV. Now he's firing back after visiting with Matthew Sowders in the Harris County Jail.

"I believe the arrest and the charges were premature," Neyland said. "They hadn't even done an autopsy of the body yet prior to charges being filed."

Hours before Sowder's arrest, investigators found the body of Melissa Sowders in Cypress Creek. The mother-of-four vanished the day after Christmas after a meet-up with Matthew Sowders at McDonald's.

"You're here on a charge of capital murder, and I believe it involves the murder of two people, including an unborn child," read a court official.

Early Friday morning, Sowders was in probable cause court, where we learned more about the investigation as charges against him were read in court.

According to court documents, a witness told investigators she came to Matthew Sowders' apartment the day Melissa Sowders disappeared, and when he opened the door, the witness saw what appeared to be a woman's feet and lower legs lying on the floor of the apartment.

She says Sowders shut the door before she saw anything else.

According to prosecutors, that same woman called Sowders later and let a deputy listen to conversation. That deputy says Sowders told the woman he had strangled his wife after she pulled a gun on him and ditched her car in the Greenspoint area.

Sowders denied that conversation took place.

Another witness told investigators Matthew Sowders came to her home on the evening of December 26 and confessed to killing his estranged wife. She said he was soaking wet and his truck was covered in mud. She also said Sowders told her he had strangled his wife after she pulled a gun on him.

Prosecutors say he told that witness he stuffed her into a large trash can and transported her to Cypress Creek, where he disposed of her body.

Melissa Sowders' family says she was in the process of divorcing Matthew Sowders. They say she was seeing someone else and was two months pregnant.

Matthew Sowders is being held without bond. His case will be tried in the 338th district court. If convicted of capital murder, he could face either the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

A burial fund for Melissa Sowders has been set up at Amegy Bank. Donations can be made to the Melissa Sowders Burial Fund at any Amegy location.

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