Man accused of kidnapping, killing ex-wife rented van from airport

A probable cause affidavit for the capital murder arrest of a 40-year-old man accused of kidnapping and killing his ex-wife shows he rented the vehicle that ultimately lead to his capture at the McAllen airport.

Richard Ford is charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping over allegations levied by police that he abducted his ex-wife, 37-year-old Melissa Banda, on Aug. 6 and lacerated her throat before leaving her lifeless body at the end of a dead-end road north of Donna.

Using GPS coordinates from the 2019 white Dodge Journey that investigators say Ford rented, authorities discovered Banda’s body the following day, on Aug. 7.

“Inv. Palmer followed the GPS coordinates which led them to east of FM 493 on Mile 14 1/2 N. Inv. Palmer observed what appeared to be a lump of mud that appeared to be in the shape of a human body. Sheriff investigators identified the deceased body as Melissa Banda and observed a laceration to her neck,” the probable cause affidavit stated.

Cameron County Park Rangers had arrested Ford, who was tracked through the GPS coordinates, on South Padre Island near Beach Access No. 5 the previous day.

McAllen police said on Aug. 7, when Banda was still considered a missing person, that surveillance video shows Ford forcing Banda into the vehicle at 3:49 p.m.

The probable cause affidavit states that the GPS data put Ford at the location where Banda’s body was found at 4:30 p.m. that day, less than an hour after her abduction.

Banda had requested an emergency protective order against Ford in February after McAllen police say he assaulted her during an argument over their assets, documents show.

On June 30, Ford violated that protective order by calling Banda and remaining silent on the line, according to police.

McAllen Chief Victor Rodriguez said at news conference following Ford’s arraignment on a capital murder charge that police obtained warrants for harassment and violation of a protection order after that call, warrants used by the Cameron County Park Rangers to arrest Ford.

He remains jailed on a total of $4.5 million in bonds.