Ex-Husband of Texas Mom Who Went Missing Before Hurricane Harvey Charged with Murder After Her Body Is Found – PEOPLE.com

Authorities announced late Saturday that the ex-husband of Crystal McDowell has been charged with murder after the Texas mom went missing just before Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in the U.S.

According to the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook post, Crystal’s body was discovered by police in a wooded area on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. The department had begun searching for the 37-year-old real estate business owner after they received a welfare concern a week earlier.

Chambers County Sheriff’s Office

Crystal’s ex-husband Steven Wayne McDowell, 44, was arrested and charged with murder, a first degree felony. He was booked in to the Chambers County Jail with bail to be set by a court of competent jurisdiction, police said. It is not known if he has entered a plea or retained an attorney.

Sheriff Brian C. Hawthorne of the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office in Texas previously told PEOPLE exclusively, “I do believe there’s foul play involved and I don’t think that she has just decided to disappear and not contact anybody.”

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According to authorities and news reports, Crystal never arrived on Aug. 25 to pick up her two children, 5 and 8, from her ex-husband’s home in the Houston area after she left her boyfriend’s home earlier that day less than 18 miles away.

She was officially reported as a missing person the next day — as Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas late on Aug. 25, began drowning Houston.

Crystal was last seen at her boyfriend’s home on Aug. 25 getting into her car, according to ABC News. Days later, police found her 2013 black Mercedes Benz submerged in a Motel 6 parking lot roughly 13 miles from her home, CBS News reported at the time.

McDowell and her ex-husband divorced in June and she had recently been staying with her boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, according to CBS News.

Hargrave told the outlet that he had last heard from Crystal on the morning of Aug. 25. “She texted me to say road conditions were good around 8:30 a.m.,” he said.

Chambers County Sheriff’s Office

Hargrave further told ABC News that Crystal had told him she intended to stay with her children at her ex-husband’s house or take them out if weather conditions were good.

“She wouldn’t just get up and leave her kids,” he said. “She wouldn’t do that so I think something is horribly wrong.”

Sheriff Hawthorne echoed that sentiment, saying, “She had too many family members and friends, and she had a successful business and she has two beautiful children that I just don’t think she would walk away from.”


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