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Keep Houston Press Free
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Chandra Belton, 40, Bayou Body Count No. 78

It was drizzling in northwest Harris County when sheriff's deputies pulled into the parking lot of the Big H Auto Auction at about 4:50 p.m. on Sunday. And it didn't long to find what they were looking for.

There, sprawled out on the blacktop, was a woman. She had been shot to death.

Deputies secured the area and began talking to witnesses. When they were finished, all investigators had to go on was that a man and a woman drove into the lot in a gold SUV before the man shot the woman several times, dumped the body and then drove away.

Later that night, the family of 40-year-old Chandra Belton were at home getting nervous. Where was Chandra? they wondered.

Finally, at about 9:30 p.m., they called the police to report Belton as a missing person.

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At first, there was no immediate connection between the shooting that afternoon and the missing-person report. But when Belton's family told investigators that Belton had left home at about 4 p.m. in a gold-colored Ford Escape with her estranged husband, Jerry Belton, the pieces started coming together.

When the family said that Jerry Belton had returned home a little after 5 p.m. without his wife and immediately took off in his own car, and that they had not been able to reach Chandra Belton all evening on her cell phone, authorities were more than suspicious.

Sheriff's investigators have charged Jerry Belton, 51, with murder. But he is not behind bars. Authorities think he may have fled to Amite, Louisiana, more than 300 miles from Houston.

Anyone with information about this case can call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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