Melissa Banda

The man facing a charge of aggravated kidnapping/sexual abuse in connection with Melissa Banda’s disappearance and death is expected to be arraigned Monday and may face additional charges.

On Sunday, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Francisco Medrano said “arrangements for our arraignment will be in the morning.”

Richard Ford, who police say is Banda’s 40-year-old husband, was arrested Thursday night after Cameron County law enforcement found him near Beach Access 5 on South Padre Island, hours after McAllen police announced they were searching for 37-year-old Melissa Banda.

Banda was last seen Thursday in the 7100 block of North Seventh Street. McAllen police, which received the call at 3:49 p.m. Thursday, said in a news release Friday that Ford allegedly forced Banda into a rented Dodge SUV. The SUV was later located with Banda at the Island.

Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra announced early Saturday morning that Banda’s body was found north of Donna around 11:33 p.m. Friday.

Following the discovery of Banda’s body, Cindy Banda shared a post Saturday morning eulogizing the victim she identified as her sibling: “Sister you were my everything.”

A GoFundMe was organized for Melissa’s children by Jennifer Cardenas, who wrote on the page the entire proceeds will be given to Cindy.

Hidalgo County sheriff investigators examine a crime scene where the body of Melissa Banda was found on E 14 1/2 N road Saturday, Aug 8, 2020, north of Donna. (Joel Martinez |

Banda reported to McAllen police on June 30 that Ford called her that morning, which was in violation of a protection order she had against him.

Ford previously pleaded guilty for attempting to commit murder in August 2002 in connection with an April 2001 incident, and was charged with assault in February 1998. He was also arrested Feb. 29 on allegations of assaulting a family member by impending circulation, jail records show.

On Sunday, Ford was charged with aggravated kidnapping/sexual abuse by McAllen police, jail records show. He was booked in county jail Saturday, with his bond set at $2.5 million.



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