CHAMBERS COUNTY, TX — The body of Crystal McDowell, the Texas real estate agent who vanished right before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, was found in a marshy wooded area on Saturday, authorities said.
Police have arrested Steven McDowell, 44, the victim’s ex-husband. He has been charged with murder and was booked into Chambers County Jail.
McDowell, a 37-year-old mother of two, disappeared on August 25, the day Harvey landed in the Gulf Coast area of southeast Texas.
According to her boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, Crystal was heading to pick up her two children — who are five and eight — from the residence she was sharing with her ex-husband, Steve McDowell, while work on her townhouse was being finished.
Hargrave told the press, “She texted me to say road conditions were good around 8:30 A.M.”
Crystle’s uncle, Jeff Walters, reported her missing the following day and took to social media to spread the word about her disappearance.
The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office launched a missing-person investigation and posted information about the case on social media.
The flood made the search difficult, but McDowell’s partly submerged Merdeces was found at a Motel 6 off an interstate highway.
Authorities traced the last ping from her cellphone to a marshy area in Baytown. The search resumed Thursday, and the body turned up Saturday.
Walters said he approached McDowell’s ex-husband and was given a curious explanation for his niece’s disappearance. Walters said:
“He showed me a message on his phone where she said she was going to get the kids and go to Dallas. I have reservations about believing that she sent that message.”
At the time, he said that he did not believe that she planned to travel to Dallas.
Main photo: Crystal McDowell [Courtesy Chambers County Sheriff’s Office]