HARRIS COUNTY – We're learning new details in the murder case involving a missing pregnant mother and her estranged husband now charged in her death.
If you believe investigators, Matthew Sowders is as cold-blooded and was caught as red-handed as any killer in recent memory.
Deputies say Matthew Sowders strangled Melissa Sowders, his wife of eight years and the mother of his four children, then stuffed her pregnant, half-naked body in a trash can and dumped her in Cypress Creek. On Thursday crews recovered what's believed to be Melissa Sowders' body from that water.
Friday morning in court came the revelation of at least one witness.
"The defendant came to her residence on December 26, she stated he was soaking wet and his truck was covered in mud. He told her she strangled her to death after he pulled a gun on her," a prosecutor said in court. "He said he stuffed her into a large black trash can and transported to Cypress Creek and there he submerged her body."
Melissa Sowders was about to be a mother for the fifth time, but it would be the first time, says a source, Matthew wouldn't be the father.
He allegedly strangled her the day after Christmas, then inexplicably answered the door to a neighbor.
"She observed him to be sweating and to be nervous," said the prosecutor. "She observed what she believed to be the feet and lower legs of a female in the apartment...the defendant then shut the door before reportee could see any additional parts of the body."
By the time deputies arrived to the apartment, the body was gone. But according to a court document, Matthew Sowders admitted to committing the crime to an acquaintance. And that acquaintance, according to investigators, happened to have a deputy listening on the phone with her.
"The defendant told the reportee he had strangled his wife for pulling a gun on him and left her car in the Greenspoint area," said the prosecutor.
But there is another side of the story.
"My client is not guilty. He has done not harm to Melissa Sowders. We'll have to clear his name in court at this point," said Matthew Sowders' attorney, Dustan Neyland.
There will be a lot to explain, but what about motive? Local 2 Investigates has learned it was Matthew who filed for divorce from Melissa in October citing conflict of personalities.
Matthew had custody of their four kids, but he was not the father of Melissa's baby-to-be and that was a contentious issue, says someone familiar with the former couple.
"They were also able to identify the body by several tattoos. One of the tattoos was the name Matt for the victim's estranged husband," said the prosecutor.
Sowders is charged with capital murder so the death penalty would be in play in this case. He's being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court Monday.