The ex-husband of Anne-Christine Johnson, a Texas woman who has been missing for nearly three weeks, is now being eyed in her disappearance.
The League City Police Department told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that 32-year-old Shaun Philip Hardy is a “person of interest” in the case.
A person of interest isn’t an official suspect, and Hardy hasn’t been charged. But the couple had a “volatile” relationship, and he was the last person to see the 30-year-old cocktail waitress and mother of two, police said.
“You have a contentious couple in a volatile relationship, sharing custody of a child, and he was the last person to report seeing her,” said League City Police Department spokesman Kelly Williamson. “The totality of those circumstances is what makes him a person of interest.”
Johnson has been missing since Dec. 8, when she went to Hardy’s home in League City, Texas. Her father reported her missing when she failed to show up for work and family members were unable to locate her.
Johnson’s mother, Stephanie Johnson, did not respond to a request for comment from HuffPost. In a recent interview with Houston’s KPRC 2 News, she said she’s “slowly dying inside.”
“I’m crying and not sleeping or eating and I’m relying on the strength of friends to keep me going,” she said.
Hardy reportedly told investigators he saw his ex-wife outside his home on the day of her disappearance and said she left in a white sedan driven by an unknown man.
Authorities said Hardy is no longer speaking with them.
“We interviewed him once by phone and once in person, but after that he employed an attorney,” Williamson told HuffPost. “We requested a second face-to-face meeting with him, which went through his attorney, but that was denied.”
HuffPost was unable to reach Hardy or his legal representation.
Johnson and Hardy have been divorced since April 2015. Johnson was ultimately awarded primary custody of their 5-year-old autistic son, and Hardy received limited visitation rights. Johnson also reportedly has an 8-year-old son from a different relationship who lives with his father.
“She would never leave a 5-year-old autistic kid,” Johnson’s mother told KPRC 2 News. “All he wanted to do is be with his mommy.”
The Houston Chronicle reports Johnson filed court documents in June 2015, seeking a protective order against her ex-husband.
“Shaun Philip Hardy’s violent behavior against me has gotten so bad that he has assaulted me with a shotgun, threatened me with a knife, and choked me,” Johnson stated in the documents. “I am afraid that without this protective order, Shaun Philip Hardy will continue to hurt me or even kill me in the future.”
Hardy reportedly filed for his own protective order the same month, claiming Johnson had “engaged in conduct that constitutes family violence” and was “reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass” him.
Both requests were granted, but they were canceled less than a month later. HuffPost was unable to confirm who had canceled them and why.
Johnson’s mother later started a GoFundMe campaign to raise legal funds for her daughter after Johnson filed for the protective order last year. The campaign, which featured a photo of a battered Johnson, raised $790 before it ended.
Investigators say they are concerned for Johnson’s safety.
“Right now, there is no body, no bloody car and no weapon,” Williamson told HuffPost. “That could be nothing or it could be something, but it’s been almost three weeks, so that, in our opinion, is pointing toward foul play.”
Williamson declined to say whether any search warrants have been issued in connection with the case.
“I cannot release that information,” he said.
The missing person search and recovery group Texas Equusearch has conducted multiple searches for Johnson. They focused on an area that lies within a 3-mile radius of where she was last seen, but found no sign of her. Those searches are now temporarily suspended.
“I really don’t have a whole lot of hope,” Johnson’s mother told the San Antonio Express-News. “I just have small shreds of hope that I hang onto.”
Anne-Christine Johnson is described as a white female, 5 feet 2 inches tall, 110 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to contact League City police at 281-332-2566.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.