Mother who went missing in Hurricane Harvey found murdered, arrest made


The body of a realtor who went missing just before Hurricane Harvey landed in Houston has been discovered, and her ex-husband has been charged with her murder.

Steven McDowell, 44, was taken into custody Saturday, arraigned on homicide charges. His ex-wife, Crystal Seratte McDowell, 37, was missing for two weeks after the hurricane hit Texas, leading to speculation that either her boyfriend or her ex were responsible, and were counting on the chaos from the storm to cover up the crime.

Crystal was from the Houston area, and had written, “stay safe out there!” on Facebook the Thursday night before the storm barreled down on the region. On Friday morning, she left her boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, at his home and headed to Baytown, Texas to pick up her two young children from Steven.

After that, she disappeared, and no one knew what happened to her until her remains were discovered in a wooded area in Chambers County, more than 20-miles from her submerged Mercedes. The car was found in flood water in the parking lot of a Motel 6 four days after her disappearance.

The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office said it looked at nine persons of interest in the crime, but arrested Steven McDowell over the weekend.

Police had maintained from the beginning of the investigation that they did not believe Crystal was a victim of Hurricane Harvey.

Brian Hawthrone of the Chambers County Sheriffs Office told CBS News: “I think that there was probably some animosity between the boyfriend and the husband. The husband might think that the boyfriend had something to do with it. The boyfriend might think that husband has something to do with it. Which is exactly what we are faced with right now.”

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