Family Crimes

Ex-Husband's Disturbing Confession To Killing Houston Mom Reveals Kids Were In House When He Strangled Her

"He found out about Paul and he snapped."

The ex-husband of a Houston woman who went missing during Hurricane Harvey says their two children were at home when he strangled his ex-wife to death, according to NBC affiliate KPRC.

Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told the Houston Chronicle, Steve McDowell, 44, made a tearful confession after being arrested for the murder of his wife, 37-year-old Crystal McDowell Saturday.

Crystal was last seen the morning before Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast after spending the night with her new boyfriend Paul Hargrave. She had recently divorced Steven McDowell, but was living part time at his house with her children while work was done on her home.

Longtime friend L.J. Adams told the Houston Chronicle that the McDowells' relationship had gotten “bad” and that Crystal told friends and family she was “getting a little scared of him.” While police have yet to declare a motive, Adams feels the relationship with Hargrave was the breaking point, saying, "he found out about Paul and he snapped."

Hargrave and Crystal’s uncle Jeff Walters were immediately suspicious when no one heard from her on the afternoon of the 25th. When asked about her whereabouts, Steven McDowell said she had texted him earlier in the day and said she was going to pick up their children and take them to Dallas, which Walters was skeptical of.

Unfortunately, any investigation into her disappearance was hampered as Hurricane Harvey barreled into Houston and battered the surrounding area.

Days after the storm passed, Crystal’s black Mercedes was found partially submerged in the parking lot of a Motel 6 in Mont Belvieu, Texas. On Saturday September 9, Crystal’s body was found in a wooded area of Chambers County, Texas. Steven McDowell had told police where it was in a confession after being brought in for questioning.

Steven McDowell was in court Tuesday after being charged with his wife’s murder. He remains in jail on $500,000 bond.

While the McDowell’s two children, ages 5 and 8, had been staying with their father since Crystal McDowell went missing August 25, after his arrest they were handed over to Child Protective Services and are now reportedly staying with a relative of their mother’s.

[Photo: KPRC, Houston]

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