HOUSTON - Houston police say 40-year-old Jerald Dewayne Watt is wanted for murder in the death of his common-law wife.
Police and family identified the victim as 35-year-old Rena Hodges, a mother of three. She was found fatally shot at her townhome on Sunset Meadow late Thursday after she failed to pick up her kids from the babysitter.
According to HPD, Watt could be driving in two vehicles: a 2002 blue Ford Explorer with Texas plates FJW-9847 or a 2010 white Nissan Versa with Texas plates 8KMWV (handicapped plate).
“Please come forward,” said niece Imani Ross. “Please come forward. It’s justice for her daughters.”
Rena Hodges called her good friend, Lori Warner, saying she and her ex were fighting, and she wanted him to leave.
Warner says Hodges told her she had a gun. A short time later, the line went dead.
“They were arguing, and then Rena said, ‘Oh, my God, he's got a gun pointed to my head…’” Warner said.
Warner may have heard Hodges’ final moments over the phone.
“Then there was scuffle...Rena screams, she heard some noise...she wasn't sure...(if) it was a gun shot or what…and then the phone went dead,” Warner said.
Initially, Warner’s friend didn’t understand the severity of the call, but a day and a half later, she contacted police and Hodges’ family relatives rushed to her home. At the scene early Friday, family members told KHOU 11 News they went to the home when they became concerned that she never picked up her three daughters, ages 14, 11 and 9. A security guard let them in, and that's when her body was found.
“The kids called and they said they haven’t seen her,” Ross said.
Family members said the last time they heard from Hodges, who was a Gospel singer at a nearby church, was Wednesday.
At the crime scene, her niece reflected on the victim's personality.
"Pretty fun, loving," Ross said. "You couldn't hater her. That's why I'm not understanding what's going on."
Police remained on the scene as of 5 a.m. Friday leading up to the charges against Watt.
Anyone with information on Watt's whereabouts is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
(© 2017 KHOU)