Young mother Deundra Ford, 22, was last seen leaving work in Houston on Sept. 22, 2023, according to police
A Texas man has been arrested in connection with the disappearance and presumed death of a young mother who went missing in September, police said.
Yoland Washington, 51, was arrested and charged with murder in the disappearance and death of Deundra Ford, 22, who was last seen in Houston on Sept. 22, 2023, the Houston Police Department (HPD) announced in a news release.
Ford, the mother of a 4-year-old boy, was a witness in a capital murder case, according to court documents obtained by ABC 13.
Washington is being held at the Dallas County Jail on an unrelated charge.
On Sept. 22, 2023, Ford left work with an unknown male in a white Ford Transit van, HPD Homicide Division Sergeant R. Montalvo and Detective D. Higgs said in the release.
Unable to reach Ford on September 23, her family reported her missing.
"I'm confident that something's not right,” Ford’s uncle, Kevin Carriere, told KHOU 11. “This is not her normal behavior.”
The HPD Missing Persons Unit and the HPD Homicide Division launched an investigation, which, per the release, "identified Washington as the suspect in this case and he was linked to Ford’s death."
Washington allegedly told police that he met Ford inside the club and gave her a ride in his van, per Click2Houston.
The publication also noted that court documents reveal investigators allegedly found Ford’s clothing inside the van with apparent blood stains. A combination of DNA from both Ford and Washington’s was identified on three of the stains on her clothing.
A chemical they used inside the van allegedly showed blood stains in the middle and back of the van, court documents state, per Click2Houston.
On May 18, Ford was asleep in the front seat of a car driven by Otis Parker, 35, when shots were fired outside a Houston apartment complex that struck and killed him, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by USA Today. She narrowly avoided the gunfire and escaped without injury.
In the affidavit, the gunman was identified as Jamal Brown, 21, and his accomplices as Mariah Green, 23, and Quitiana Taylor, 21, along with Jarrell Wheeler, 22.
Authorities said the killing was a planned robbery over $1,500 that Ford and Taylor made during a previous work trip to Louisiana.
Court documents cited by ABC 13 explain how authorities learned during the investigation that one of the suspects sent a text message referring to Ford saying, “She ain't safe in Houston...at all.”
A separate court filing obtained by USA Today shows that a judge granted a no-contact order between Ford and the suspects in June.
All four suspects in connection with the initial murder case were charged in June with capital murder in connection with Parker’s shooting death, police said in a separate release. Brown, Taylor and Green were additionally charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
However, in July, Brown was killed by police officers who were serving an arrest warrant on a capital murder charge, per a police press release. "Brown produced a pistol and refused all verbal commands to surrender the pistol,” police said. “Two task force members (assigned to the HCSO) discharged weapons and fatally struck him. It is unknown at this time if Brown discharged his weapon.”
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The three remaining suspects are currently behind bars without bond, per jail records obtained by USA Today. It is unclear if they have entered pleas to the charges.
Washington was arrested in Dallas on an unrelated charge and he remains in the Dallas County Jail awaiting extradition to Harris County. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
Ford is described by police as a Black woman who stands about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 170 lbs. She has brown eyes and black hair.
Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or speak anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
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