Missing mom's estranged husband charged after body found near search area


Matthew Sowders never saw it coming, as US marshals surrounded him in his parents' driveway, pulling Sowders out of a car, ordering him to get on the ground and handcuffing him. The arrest by the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force took only minutes. Once they determined neither he nor his father had any weapons, the 28-year-old was walked to a vehicle and informed that he was charged with the capital murder of his estranged pregnant wife Melissa, the mother of his four children. Authorities say he confessed to others his role in her death.

This was the moment Melissa's family had been waiting for.

Melissa's cousin Amanda Kaufman said, "She didn't deserve to be treated like this. This is despicable and we need harsher penalties for people like this."

From the moment Melissa vanished on December 26 after meeting Matthew at a McDonald's, her family has believed that Matthew Sowders was responsible. When volunteers with Texas EquuSearch pulled her body from Cypress Creek Thursday morning, there was relief, but when Matthew Sowders was arrested, there was tremendous gratitude.

"It's wonderful," said Melissa's cousin Michelle Bierman. "It's awesome. We are so excited."

But the family knows there are no winners in this tragedy. Four small children have lost their mother, their father is in jail and Melissa's unborn child has lost a chance at life. The couple's children are staying with relatives.

Matthew Sowders is being held without bond in the Harris County Jail. If he would be convicted of capital murder, he could face either the death penalty, or life in prison without parole.

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