The search continues for a 37-year-old realtor and mother of two who went missing just hours before Hurricane Harvey slammed into Houston, according to local NBC affiliate KPRC.
Crystal McDowell was last seen on the morning of August 25 leaving her boyfriend’s home in Baytown, Texas. While the devastating storm that left 66 dead has hampered search efforts for her, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told CBS This Morning, "She is not a victim of this storm."
Crystal had recently divorced Steven McDowell, with whom she had two children, ages 5 and 8. She had been living with her ex-husband while her own home was being renovated, but spent most nights at her new boyfriend Paul Hargrave’s home. According to ABC News, Hargrave said Crystal had been fighting with her ex-husband.
According to police, on the morning of the August 25, home security camera footage captures Crystal leaving Hargrave’s home and getting in her car. At 7:25 am, she texted Hargrave about traffic conditions into Houston and said she was going to pick up her kids. That was the last anyone heard from Crystal McDowell.
Crystal then reportedly missed a meeting with a client Friday afternoon, which raised concern with her uncle Jeff Walters, with whom she worked in the real estate business.
When he reached out to her ex-husband, Steven McDowell showed him a text message saying she had taken the two kids to Dallas. Walters told CBS News, "I have reservations about believing that she sent that message.”
Walters reported Crystal missing Saturday morning, but by then Hurricane Harvey had made landfall, wreaking havoc on the surrounding area, and making search efforts near impossible.
Days later, Crystal McDowell's black Mercedes was found partially submerged in the parking lot of a Motel 6 in Mont Belvieu, Texas, according to CBS News. Two people found inside the car were detained and questioned by police, however, Walters says they are not believed to have been involved in McDowell’s disappearance.
While her family continue to hold out hope for her safe return, boyfriend Hargrave fears the worst. “Someone did something to her,” he told Crime Online in an exclusive interview.
Crystal Seratte McDowell is described as being 5'4" and weighing approximately 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and green eyes. Her family is offering a $10,000 reward for information on her whereabouts. Anyone with information should call the Chambers County Sheriff's Office at 409-267-2500.
[Photo: Courtesy Jeff Walters]