Man held in wife’s death seeks release

Within 24 hours of a 40-year-old McAllen man’s arrest on charges of aggravated kidnapping/sexual abuse, harassment and violation of protection order stemming from his wife’s disappearance, he retained a lawyer who filed a civil motion seeking his release.

Richard Ford has hired Sergio J. Sanchez, who on Saturday filed a motion seeking a bail reduction and release from jail for lack of probable cause, civil court records show.

The filing, a writ of habeas corpus, will be heard in the 464th state District Court.

The lifeless body of Ford’s wife, 37-year-old Melissa Banda, was found at about 11:30 p.m. Friday night, Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said on social media Saturday.

McAllen police say she was last seen in the 7100 block of North Seventh Street on Thursday being forced into a rented Dodge SUV at around 3:49 p.m. Cameron County law enforcement authorities found that vehicle near South Padre Island Beach Access No. 5 at around 9:32 p.m. and arrested Ford on charges of harassment and violation of a protection order.

Police say Banda called them on June 30 to report that “her husband Richard Ford … called her … (that) morning … when answering the call Richard stayed quiet on the line … there is currently a protection order which prohibits him from making any contact with her.”

Richard Ford

It’s not immediately clear when Banda obtained the protection order against Ford.

Jail records indicate Ford was last arrested by McAllen police on Feb. 29 on a charge of “assault fam/house mem impede breath.” The details of those allegations are unclear, but The Monitor has requested the probable cause affidavit from municipal court for that arrest.

On Monday morning, Guerra said Ford continues to be held at the Hidalgo County jail while sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit investigates Banda’s death. Ford is likely to be arraigned on more charges relating to Banda’s death sometime today.

Court records also revealed more details about a 2002 conviction Ford has for attempted murder.

That indictment alleges Ford shot at a man on April 17, 2001. He was sentenced to eight years probation in the case.

A hearing for Ford’s attempt at a bond reduction or release for lack of probable cause is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

He is being held on a $2.5 million bond on the aggravated kidnapping/sexual abuse charge levied by McAllen police.