A man is accused of killing a 22-year-old Texas mother, and witness in a murder case, who went missing near her place of work in Houston, according to investigators.
Friends and family called Deundrea Ford reliable, police said in Harris County court documents filed Jan. 11. When she disappeared without a word, it quickly became clear that something was wrong — she would never be apart from her 4-year-old son for long, family told police.
Ford was a witness in a murder case in which a man riding in a vehicle with her was fatally shot in May, KHOU reported.
According to court documents in that case, a text message between two suspects implied Ford’s life was in danger, saying “She ain’t safe in Houston … at all,” KTRK reported.
Ford was working at Divas Bikini Sports Bar and Grill at about 1 a.m., Sept. 22, when she encountered the man police say would soon kill her, investigators said. Cameras captured her talking to Yoland Washington, a 51-year-old New Jersey man, before getting into a white van parked outside, police said, adding that it was the last time she was seen.
Her boyfriend was going to pick her up, but at 1:34 a.m. she texted him to say she had found a “date,” according to investigators. He texted her back but the message was left unread, and he went to the club at 2:23 a.m. to look for her.
One minute before the boyfriend arrives, police say Washington can be seen pulling out of the parking lot and driving away.
Investigators spoke with Washington several days later, according to police. He said the reason she was never seen getting out of his van is because he dropped her off at another location.
Ford’s body still hasn’t been found, but during a search of Washington’s van police used a chemical that reacts with blood, which “illuminated” spots all over the the interior, spanning from the back back doors to the driver seat. Using a DNA sample from Ford’s son, investigators say they found “DNA consistent with (Ford) … mixed with (Washington’s) DNA on 3 of the blood stains” on a shirt he wore the night of Ford’s disappearance.
Investigators say Washington has “an extensive history of violent offenses against women.”
Washington’s “account is also suspicious, and some of it is clearly a lie,” police said, adding that video surveillance and Google location data contradict parts of Washington’s story.
Washington is charged with murder.
Police did not say whether they believe Ford’s killing is related to her being a witness in a separate murder investigation.