HOUSTON - Authorities in Harris County said they have arrested the boyfriend of a missing area woman.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office said 31-year-old James David Clarke was charged with murder in the case of 20-year-old Amber Chantel Elkins, who was last seen July 24.
Investigators said Elkins was the victim of foul play and has not been located.
Detectives said Elkins' vehicle, a dark green 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer with Georgia license plates, was found abandoned in a vacant business parking lot in the 13900 block of Homestead Road, just north of Greens Bayou, about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday.
The front passenger window was broken out and a substantial amount of blood was found inside the vehicle, investigators said.
Elkins' mother, Shani Kilpatrick, said her daughter would never go a day without letting someone know where she was. Kilpatrick said her phone rang at 3:30 a.m. Sunday, but she missed the call because she was sleeping. When she woke up later that morning, she realized it was her daughter, so she called her back.
"I called her back and a guy answered. I asked where Amber was, and he hung up," said Kilpatrick. "She would only call me at 3:30 in the morning if something was wrong. That's why I know something was wrong."
Kilpatrick also said Elkins was due in court on Monday for a custody hearing regarding her 9-month-old daughter, who is staying with relatives.
"I don't think it looks good," Kilpatrick said. "I'm trying to keep the faith. I don't want to say that she's gone. I just know that she can't call me."
Frank Ferrata is the father of Elkins' daughter, Ava. He said it's heartbreaking because the baby is too young to understand what's going on.
"Ava says 'Mama' all the time, and it breaks my heart," he said.
Ferrata said he and Elkins were living in Midway, Texas, together, but recently she moved back to the Houston area. He called her a kind, loving person and said they just want to know what happened to her.
Elkins' father, Mike Elkins, flew in Friday night from Atlanta. He said he felt helpless being so far away and wanted to come to Texas to help search for his daughter. But he admitted the evidence doesn't look good, and now the family is fearing the worst.
"I feel in my heart that my daughter's gone. I've accepted that. I just want to find her," said Mike Elkins. "My daughter had a heart of gold. She would do anything for anybody."
About 70 volunteers scoured more than 150 acres looking for signs of Amber Elkins.
"We're not going to sugarcoat anything. This looks bad," Texas EquuSearch Founder Tim Miller said. "We're going to hold on to that tiny miracle, but the reality is we've got a big problem here. We got a 20-year-old that's got to be found."
Amber Elkins is white, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes. She has two stars tattooed on her wrist and the word "ACE" tattooed on an ankle.
Anyone with information regarding Amber Elkins' disappearance is asked to call the HCSO Homicide Unit at 713-967-5810, or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
Clark is being held at the Harris County jail.
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