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Ex-husband arrested in death of realtor who disappeared before Harvey

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Steven McDowell has been charged with murder in the death of Crystal McDowell, KHOU reports. (CHAMBERS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE VIA KHOU) Steven McDowell has been charged with murder in the death of Crystal McDowell, KHOU reports. (CHAMBERS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE VIA KHOU)
Crystal McDowell (COURTESY JEFF WALTERS) Crystal McDowell (COURTESY JEFF WALTERS)

BAYTOWN - Police charged the ex-husband of a Houston-area realtor who was last seen before Hurricane Harvey in connection with her death.

Detectives discovered the body of missing Baytown woman Crystal McDowell two weeks after her disappearance. Her body was discovered Saturday, September 9 in a wooded area of west Chambers County, according to KHOU.  

Steven McDowell, 44, is charged with murder.

The 37-year-old mother was last seen in Baytown on August 25, a day before Harvey reached Texas.

Texas EquuSearch looked for McDowell for more than two weeks, on foot and ATVS. 

The sheriff said McDowell's children are currently in the care of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, KHOU reports.  

McDowell's boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, said that she texted him about 24 hours before the catastrophic storm hit Houston.  

She missed a meeting with a client Friday afternoon, and her uncle Jeff Walters reported her as a missing person Saturday.

All the while, Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc on Texas, and making the search for McDowell nearly impossible.

The Chambers County Sheriff's Office launched a missing person investigation and posted information about the case on social media, but the department and many others in southeast Texas are overwhelmed with storm response.

Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said in August that he was "very, very confident" that McDowell was not a victim of the storm. 

Her uncle, Walters, said he approached McDowell's ex-husband and was given a curious explanation for her disappearance.

"He showed me a message on his phone where she said she was going to get the kids and go to Dallas. I have reservations about believing that she sent that message," Walters said.  

Walters and Hargrave are skeptical McDowell had any plans to travel to Dallas. Walters himself traveled to Dallas from Baytown to ride out the storm with his 87-year-old aunt. If McDowell wanted to join the caravan, Walters said she would have told him.  

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