Mom Missing Since Hurricane Harvey Found Dead & Her Ex Was Arrested

mom missing hurricane harvery

In the midst of a natural disaster, a horror of a different kind was unfolding. A Texas mother of two went missing the day before Hurricane Harvey struck. Her body was found over the weekend and her ex-husband has been arrested for murder.


Crystal McDowell, 37, was mom to a 5-year-old and 8-year-old and a successful real estate agent. Her divorce from Steven McDowell, 44, had been finalized months ago.

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At the time of her death, McDowell was dating boyfriend Paul Hargrave and temporarily staying with her ex-husband while her own home was being renovated. She had spent the previous night at her boyfriend's house. With Hurricane Harvey on the way, the plan was for her to pick up her children from her ex-husband's house on August 25 and drive to stay with family members in Dallas during the storm.

When McDowell never arrived in Dallas, her family and boyfriend contacted the authorities.

Steven McDowell allegedly told police that his ex-wife never made it to his home to pick up the children. Her abandoned Mercedes was found three days after the hurricane in a flooded motel parking lot, the damage from Harvey no doubt making it difficult to provide police with any clues.

woman killed by husband before hurricane harvey
Chambers Country Sheriff's Office/Facebook

"We don't believe she parked it there," Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told ABC News. "We believe that whoever parked it there had hoped that somebody would take it. They left the car unlocked and they left the keys in the console."

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Surveillance footage provided by Hargrave showed McDowell leaving his house that morning in no apparent distress. McDowell's uncle Jeff Walters told ABC News that his niece was content in her life. "She said herself that she was the happiest she had ever been in her life," he said. 

In a grand romantic gesture, Hargrave had just had a billboard put up advertising McDowell's real estate business. She was so touched by her gift she even told her uncle about it.

Police worked tirelessly, retracing her steps and speaking to multiple persons of interest. Her body was found on Saturday in a wooded area of Chambers County, near her ex-husband's house. Authorities are not releasing the cause of death at this time.

Chambers Country Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Steven McDowell has been charged with murder, a first degree felony. He is being held in the Chambers County Jail awaiting a bail hearing. 

We don't know the details of what happened to McDowell, but we do know that no woman deserves her fate. The only comfort to these poor children and this family is that they will be able to lay their mother to rest.

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