In 2017, Houston realtor and mom of two Crystal McDowell disappeared simply as Hurricane Harvey was hitting the state of Texas. It made trying to find her terribly tough, each whereas the hurricane was pounding Texas and since afterward, the floodwaters had washed away quite a lot of potential proof.
Forward of the 48 Hours episode in regards to the seek for McDowell, right here’s what it is advisable learn about her disappearance and homicide.
Crystal Disappeared on August 25, 2017
In August 2017, simply as Hurricane Harvey was about to make landfall in Texas, McDowell was seen leaving her boyfriend Paul Hargrave’s home in Baytown, Texas, early within the morning on August 25. Then she stopped responding to calls and textual content messages, which put her Uncle Jeff on excessive alert.
Jeff Walters and his spouse raised Crystal after her dad and mom died when she was younger, and he instantly contacted authorities when he couldn’t come up with her as a result of he stated it was extremely uncommon for her not to reply to his calls and messages.
Walters additionally contacted Crystal’s ex-husband, Steven McDowell, who initially claimed that she was supposed to return decide up their kids Madden and Maui from his home however she by no means confirmed. The native authorities started making an attempt to find Crystal, however when Hurricane Harvey hit the world, the investigation was thrown into chaos.
“It was horrible. The rain wouldn’t cease. It simply wouldn’t cease. … We had deputies that had been flooded out of their houses. One in every of our investigators misplaced his whole home. Our native Texas Ranger and his spouse had been flooded out of theirs,” District Lawyer Cheryl Lieck instructed 48 Hours, including that they nonetheless continued to go looking to Crystal as finest they may.
Three days later, because the floodwaters receded, Crystal’s automotive was discovered within the Baytown Motel 6 parking zone with the keys inside. Ultimately, safety footage from the motel confirmed Steve parking the automotive there and leaving. Later safety footage caught Steve on digital camera placing one thing in a trash can at an area gasoline station, however the contents of the can might by no means be examined as a result of they had been washed away by the flood.
As authorities dug deeper, they found that Steve and Crystal’s divorce had not been very amicable. Then just some days earlier than her loss of life, Crystal uninvited Steve from a household cruise that her new boyfriend was attending, which investigators imagine began Steve’s downward spiral.
Steve McDowell Ultimately Confessed
After having his two youngest kids taken away whereas he was being investigated of their mom’s disappearance, Steven roughly confessed to his oldest daughter from a earlier relationship, Krysta, that he had killed Crystal. Then he finally instructed the police that he and Crystal fought, he strangled her, and he put her into trash baggage and into his automotive. Steve led authorities to her physique 15 days after she went lacking. D.A. Lieck instructed 48 Hours that if he hadn’t led them to the physique, which was deep in a closely wooded space, they doubtless by no means would have discovered Crystal.
On the trial, Steve argued it was a heat-of-the-moment killing, which in Texas can get a defendant as little as two years in jail. However the jury noticed issues otherwise and located him responsible of homicide, sentencing him to 50 years in jail. He can be eligible for parole in 2042.
The couple’s two younger kids are presently dwelling out of state with a pal of the household who’s looking for full authorized custody, in response to CBS Information.
Dateline NBC usually airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, although on June 5, the episode aired at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
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