Family of murdered Texas mom-of-three sued cops after she called them nine times for help before her ex-husband abducted her, only to dump her body on the side of the roadside with her throat slit
Melissa Banda, 37, was murdered On August 7, by her estranged husband, Richard Ford Jr, 40, whose criminal background she allegedly, did not know, but police knew
Victim’s sister, Cynthia Banda, sued McAllen PD alleging that Melissa phoned police numerous times to report that Ford had been harassing, stalking and impersonating her online
Banda filed for divorce from Ford on November 7, 2019, and obtained a temporary restraining order
Fourteen days later, Banda called McAllen police for protection from Ford because he was on his way to her house after being served with divorce papers
Ford compiled a record of stalking with electronic device, impersonating online, harassing and physical assaulting Banda since their divorce
Ford grew progressively more violent, the lawsuit claims, as evidenced by a series of phone calls in 2020 detailing Ford’s violations of the restraining order-
Banda had made numerous calls to police report that Ford was serially violating the protective order
These incidents were all reported to police and Cynthia Banda is suing the McAllen PD of failing to offer her sister the protection that would have deterred the killer
The suit further alleges that McAllen police, unlike Banda, were also aware of Ford’s priors, pleading guilty to attempted murder and assault in two separate cases
Melissa Banda, 37, was murdered in 2020. Her ex-husband Robert Ford is accused of kidnapping her before slitting her throat and dumping her body along the side of a road. Ford’s priors include pleading guilty to the attempted murder of a man in 2002 as well as the assault of a different man. She was not aware of his chequered past, but her sister’s lawsuit accuses McAllen PD of being aware of both cases.
A Texas mother-of-three was murdered by her ex-husband after calling police nine times, her family claims – and now they are suing the city.
The body of Melissa Banda, 37, was found in bushes on the side of a rural road in August 2020 with her throat slit. Richard Ford Jr., 40, Banda’s ex-husband, was arrested and charged in connection to her death.
Her sister has filed a lawsuit against the City of McAllen, claiming the McAllen Police Department ‘did almost nothing to protect her’.
The victim’s estranged husband, Richard Ford Jr., [photo], previously pleading guilty to attempted murder and assault in two separate cases – a criminal background that was allegedly not known to Banda. He is now charged with her murder, assault, stalking and violating a protective order
In her lawsuit Cynthia Banda alleges that despite the numerous calls her sister made to the McAllen Police Department between November 2019 and August 2020, she got no help and was not offered any protective measures.
The suspect allegedly grabbed her and ‘covered her mouth as she began to kick and scream’ before forcing her into the back of a white SUV.
The screams alerted Banda’s nanny and neighbors, who frantically phoned police and told them that she had just been abducted by Ford.
Melissa Banda’s sister Cynthia, seen [right, with Melissa], filed a lawsuit against the City of McAllen, claiming the McAllen PD ‘did almost nothing to protect her’ despite her numerous calls to the dept signalling her life was endangered by her estranged husband until he slit her throat
However, this was not the first time McAllen PD had been informed of Ford’s abuse against his ex-wife, the suit alleges.
Banda filed for divorce from Ford on November 7, 2019, and obtained a temporary restraining order.
Fourteen days later, Banda called McAllen police for protection from Ford because he was on his way to her house after being served with divorce papers.
Ford grew progressively more violent, the lawsuit claims, as evidenced by a series of phone calls in 2020.
In one incident from February 28, 2020, he choked Banda, ‘impeding her breathing,’ while threatening to hurt their children if she reported the assault.
Still, Banda called authorities and Ford was arrested the next day – only to be released one day later.
On June 8, Banda called again to report that Ford was stalking her while she was at a Gold’s Gym in McAllen, the lawsuit claims.
On June 30, she reportedly called police saying Ford had violated the protective order.
The lawsuit alleges Melissa called police nine times between November 2019 and August 2020 – even in the days leading up to her death
The mother of three said, on numerous occasions, Ford was stalking her, abusing her and impersonating her online
On July 7, Banda told police she suspected Ford was using a photo of her on a website offering ‘service from a female,’ causing her to receive text messages.
A day later, she reported that she thought Ford was stalking her and might have planted a tracking device on her vehicle.
On July 18, she told police that he, again, violated the protective order.
Two days later, she reported that she suspected that Ford was impersonating her online.
The day before a modification hearing for her divorce, Banda told police that she suspected Ford had taken a car from her home.
The next day – August 6 – Banda went missing.
Hours after the hearing, Ford is accused of driving to his estranged wife’s house and ambushing her as she arrived.
On August 7, she was reported as a missing person by the McAllen Police Department.
Ford was arrested later that day in the resort town of South Padre Island.
On the day of her divorce hearing, Ford drove to her house hours later and forced her into the back of an SUV. Her screams drew the attention of her nanny and neighbors, who called police
Melissa Banda was reported as a missing person on August 7. Her sister claims the search party spent 30 hours looking for her
Two days after her kidnapping, Banda’s body was found, according to the lawsuit.
Her sister claims they spent 30 hours looking for her.
‘I would have kept looking forever,’ she wrote on Facebook. ‘How I wished things would have been different.’
The suit also accuses the police of having ‘a policy or custom of treating domestic violence cases involving women and/or Hispanic women less seriously than other types of assault cases.’
Cynthia Banda is asking the court for compensatory damages and a reasonable attorney’s fee, the lawsuit says.
She demands a trial by jury and is seeking damages for the ‘mental anguish, emotional pain, torment and suffering that Banda suffered prior to her death,’ as well as medical, funeral and burial expenses.
Ford faces a slew of charges for his role in Banda’s murder. This includes capital murder by terroristic threat in the course of aggravated kidnapping; assault on a family member by impeding breath or circulation; violation of a protective order involving stalking; and stalking.
Ford has a checkered past that was allegedly unknown to Banda.
He pled guilty to the attempted murder of a man in 2002 as well as the assault of a different man.
The suit accuses McAllen PD of being aware of both cases.
On March 3, 2021, Ford pled not guilty to all counts. Jury selection has been scheduled for January 26, 2024, with a trial set to begin on January 29.
Two days after her alleged kidnapping, Banda’s body was found on the side of a rural road in the city of Donna, Texas
The lawsuit accuses the police of having ‘a policy or custom of treating domestic violence cases involving women and/or Hispanic women less seriously than other types of assault cases’
Banda’s death was not the first of McAllen PD’s alleged transgressions – the department has a sordid past, as video surfaced in 1981 showing cops beating inmates without provocation
A GoFundMe from August 2020 raised just shy of its $35,000 goal.
‘Melissa Banda was a young, beautiful, smart and kind woman,’ it reads.
‘She was the mother of 3 children (ages 6, 10 and 12) who meant the world to her! She coached her daughters’ soccer team, worked full time, and was always willing to help out those less fortunate.’
All of the money would go to Cynthia, ‘as the sole beneficiary to help support Melissa’s children during this difficult time.’
This is not the first time the McAllen Police Department has landed in hot water.
It suffered lasting damage to its reputation in 1981, when television stations broadcast videotapes made by the department between 1974 and 1979.
They were recorded by a television camera that had been set up over the booking area at the police station to protect officers from brutality claims – but they captured numerous occasions of officers beating prisoners.
Cynthia has been writing tributes to her sister every year since her murder.
On August 6, third anniversary of her sister’s death, she wrote: ‘At exactly 2pm on this day was the last time I’d tell you I love you, laugh, smile and hug you.
‘I hope you know how much we really MISS YOU.
‘We love you Sister. What I’d give to have you here with me but I know one day we’ll see you again.’