Crystal McDowell went missing just as Hurricane Harvey barreled through Houston, Texas, back on August 25. While it initially looked as though she might have been a victim of the storm, the sheriff didn’t think that was the case and neither did her boyfriend. Crystal’s ex-husband has been charged with first-degree murder in her death after her body was found in a wooded area in the marsh located in Western Chambers County. Her remains were discovered after she’d been missing for more than two weeks.
Steven McDowell, 44, was arrested for the murder of his 37-year-old ex-wife, who is also the mother of his two very young children. When she went missing on August 25, it was just as Harvey was making itself known to the area and when she had not been seen again, some assumed her disappearance was storm related.
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said last week that he didn’t believe it was Hurricane Harvey that caused the real estate agent’s disappearance. He said this after her car was found in a flooded Motel 6 parking lot in the wake of Harvey ripping through Houston, reports ABC News.
Crystal was last seen on the home surveillance cameras at her boyfriend’s house, walking through his living room and then going outside to get in her car and drive away. That was Friday. According to her boyfriend, she was going to pick up her two children ages 5 and 8 from her ex-husband, with whom she shared custody.
On her way she sent her boyfriend a text message and then she went silent, never to be heard from again. Crystal’s uncle said that he had heard from her that morning, but nothing after that. Paul Hargrove, Crystal’s boyfriend, said she was going to her ex-husband’s home to pick up her kids, which was just about a 12-minute drive from Hargrove’s home. When he tried to get in touch with her later on Friday and she didn’t answer, this is when he called her family.
It was odd for Crystal not to be in touch with her boyfriend and family members, so when the family couldn’t contact Crystal, there was an immediate concern. Jeff Walters, who is Cyrstal’s uncle, filed a missing person’s report on his niece the following day, which was Saturday, according to Crime Online.
It wasn’t until Tuesday that Crystal’s car was found in the parking lot, which wasn’t too far away from her ex-husband’s home. Other than the news that Crystal’s body was found in a wooded area, that is about all the details police will release. Her cause of death is not known.
According to US News, the flood waters from Harvey hampered the search for Crystal, but police were able to ping her cell phone off a tower to find her body, which they report was in a “marsh area.” The search for Crystal resumed on Thursday and it was Saturday when her body was discovered.
McDowell’s arrest was based on circumstantial evidence, said Hawthorne. This includes “talks with friends and family and an interview with the McDowell himself. Crystal’s boyfriend had told authorities that although they had just started going together a month ago, their relationship was serious.
Crystal and her ex-husband were fighting over a cruise they had arranged to take with the kids, but Crystal had changed her mind and she did not want McDowell to accompany them. Instead, she asked her new boyfriend to go in her ex-husband’ place. Crystal had been staying with Hargrove while her place was being remodeled, he told the detectives.
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