A day after police in Texas arrested an active-duty U.S. Air Force major in connection with his wife’s disappearance, investigators have “disturbing” evidence suggesting she’s no longer alive, but no body. And apart from the suspect, her husband 40-year-old Andre McDonald, the one person who may be able to tell police what happened to 29-year-old Andreen McDonald is the couple’s 6-year-old autistic daughter.
Investigators say they have yet to interview the little girl, who is described as mostly nonverbal. But new court documents cited by The Houston Chronicle on Monday suggest signs of violence were discovered at the family's home. Two of Andreen McDonald’s friends reportedly discovered blood stains, hair, and a fresh burn pile at the home over the weekend after the young mother failed to show up for work. One of the women reportedly spotted a zipper in the charred burn pit.
The grisly find led police to search the home and arrest McDonald’s Air Force husband on Sunday for allegedly destroying receipts in a bid to conceal the purchase of an ax, a shovel, gloves, heavy-duty trash bags, and two five-gallon gas cans—tools “to be used to dispose of a body,” according to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
Police have not yet charged Andre McDonald with his wife’s murder, but Salazar has said investigators believe the couple’s daughter witnessed what happened.
“At the center of this, is a little girl… who, frankly speaking, just lost two parents,” Salazar told reporters after McDonald’s arrest. “To us, it’s pretty evident that she saw something,” Salazar told reporters. “She saw what happened to her mom. And that’s the most heartbreaking part of this case.”
According to The Houston Chronicle, Andreen told her friend that if she were to ever go missing, it was because her husband—Air Force Major Andre McDonald—had killed her. Andre McDonald reportedly told investigators he and his wife had fought prior to her disappearance, initially claiming she was being treated at a local hospital. When authorities called the hospital, however, they learned she was not there.
“We believe that Andreen McDonald is no longer living,” Salazar told reporters late Sunday. “The fact that this young lady, mom to this beautiful little child, is out in the woods somewhere quite possibly doesn’t sit well with me,” he said. “I’m not going to rest until we find her and we get her back to her family.”
The potential reality has hit Andreen’s relatives hard. Her mother, Hyacinth Smith, told local news station KSAT that she’s beginning to lose hope.
“They haven't found the body, but if they find the body, she's not going to be alive,” she said Monday.
According to KSAT, Andreen’s daughter is currently under the care of Smith.
“I'm thinking that she's gone right now. Like yesterday, I wasn't thinking like that, but right now, I'm thinking that she's gone,” Smith said.
Multiple requests for comment to the Bexar County Police Department from the The Daily Beast have yet to receive responses.
Andre, who reportedly works at the cyberwarfare unit at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, is currently in custody at Bexar County Jail. His bail is set at $2 million.