BAYTOWN, TX — Fears are growing for a Texas realtor and mom of two who has been missing since Hurricane Harvey.
The last time anyone heard from Crystal McDowell was the morning of August 25.
According to her boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, she 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.
“She texted me to say road conditions were good around 8:30 A.M.,” Hargrave told CBS News.
The 38-year-old real estate agent stopped returning calls and texts on Friday. Her uncle, Jeff Walters, reported her missing on Saturday.
The search for McDowell has been complicated by Hurricane Harvey, which has been unleashing devastation on the area.
“This happened before the storm, which we think is really important for people to know. And now with all the flooding and everything down here, we feel even more helpless,” Walters told Dateline.
The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office launched a missing-person investigation and posted information about the case on social media.
Hargrave and Walters have posted photos and a description of her black Mercedes on Facebook. After several false leads, McDowell’s car was found partially submerged in water outside a Motel 6 in Mont Belvieu.
Walters said that a man and a woman who were seen inside McDowell’s car were detained at the motel by police and taken in for questioning — but added that police do not believe that they were involved in McDowell’s disappearance.
Walters said he approached McDowell’s ex-husband and was given a curious explanation for her 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.”
He does not believe that she planned to travel to Dallas.
According to Heavy, the “About” section on Steve McDowell’s Facebook page said the couple was married on April 14, 2007 and made no mention of divorce — but this section is no longer able to be viewed by the public.
The couple’s divorce was uncontested and finalized in Harris County in February 2017, according to court records obtained by CrimeFeed.
McDowell is five feet four inches tall, weighs approximately 110 pounds, and has blonde hair and green eyes. Her family is offering a $15,000 reward for anyone with information about her whereabouts.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office at (409) 267-2500.
Main photo: Crystal McDowell [Courtesy Chambers County Sheriff’s Office]