Missing Houston woman was witness in murder case; no-contact order was issued in June, records show

Missing Houston woman was witness in murder case; no-contact order was issued in June, records show


Natalie Neysa Alund
 USA TODAY

A Houston woman reported missing by police last month is a witness in a capital murder case, according to new information obtained in the case.

Deundrea Lakelsia Ford, a 21-year-old mother, disappeared during the early morning hours of Sept. 21, the Houston Police Department reported last week. The department’s Missing Persons Unit said Ford was last seen near the 11900 block of the East Freeway.

Her family, who believes she was abducted, told local media outlets KHOU 11 and Fox 26 Ford was last was spotted getting into a white van with an unidentified man outside Diva’s Bikini Sports Bar, where she had worked for “only a few weeks.”

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Ford listed as victim, witness in capital murder case

Court papers obtained by USA TODAY show Ford listed as a victim and a witness in a capital murder case stemming from a killing this spring.

Threats against Ford’s life are documented in a probable cause affidavit filed in June against 22-year-old Jarrell Travon Wheeler, one of four suspects charged in the May 18 fatal shooting of Otis Parker, 35.

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The affidavit identifies the other defendants as 21-year-old Jamal Brown, listed as the shooter, and accomplices 23-year-old Mariah Green and 21-year-old Quitiana Taylor.

According to the 7-page affidavit, the defendants planned to rob and kill Parker and Ford over $1,500 cash.

In a text exchange between Brown and Taylor, the affidavit shows, Brown allegedly wrote, “She got to go too.”

Taylor, court papers show, responded, “I’m already knowing.”

Ford witnessed fatal shooting; no-contact order was issued in June

About 4:30 a.m. on the day of the killing, the affidavit shows, Ford was sleeping in the front passenger seat of a car driven by Parker when she said she heard gunshots as the vehicle pulled into an apartment complex in southeast Houston.

Ford and Taylor, who was in the back seat, had just returned from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where they had worked as dancers for about one week, according to the document.

Parker, who was behind the wheel, was fatally shot, the affidavit shows. Bullets barely missed Ford, who escaped unharmed out of the car’s back passenger door, it continues.

Another court document outlining bond conditions obtained by USA TODAY on Monday revealed that on June 30, a judge issued a no-contact order between the defendants and Ford.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies fatally shot Brown on July 12 while they attempted to serve him with a murder warrant, Houston police said.

The remaining three defendants remained incarcerated on Monday without bond, sheriff’s office jail records showed.

Their respective court-appointed attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment Monday by USA TODAY.

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It was unclear whether the shooting was connected to her disappearance.

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‘Open and active pending further investigation’

On Monday, Ford remained missing and the case was “open and active pending further investigation,” a Houston police spokesperson told USA TODAY.

Detectives have not released additional information about the case since the department’s initial missing person alert, but authorities are asking anyone with information about Ford’s disappearance “to come forward.”

Last seen wearing black tank top and tan pants

Police described Ford as a Black woman with brown eyes and black hair, standing 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing about 170 pounds.

According to police she was last seen wearing a black tank top and tan pants.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to contact police or the Texas Center for the Missing. 

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X @nataliealund.

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