The Search for Crystal Serrate McDowell

Late August of 2017 the entire State of Texas was concerned with one thing only. Hurricane Harvey. This storm was massive in size, and set to make landfall August 25/26th.

When I say massive, I mean it was just about as large as the entire State of Texas. That’s big y’all!

Crystal McDowell (37) was a well known and respected realtor in Baytown Texas. When her parents passed away at an early age, Crystal was raised by her Uncle, Jeff Walters. Crystal had two children with her newly ex husband Steve McDowell.

Crystal had recently started dating a local jeweler named Paul Hargrave. Friends and family said she had never been happier.


On the morning of August 25th, Crystal left her boyfriends home with plans to pick up her children from her ex husbands home. Steve initially claimed she never made it to his home.

Crystal was said to be a creature of habit, she was always prompt at returning telephone calls and texts. When she stopped responding to texts from worried family and friends, she was promptly reported missing.

When a Hurricane hits, so does chaos and displacement. But family and investigators were convinced her disappearance had nothing to do with the storm. Crystal would never leave her kids behind, she never went a day without texting her uncle.

Hurricane Harvey didn’t stop, the rain didn’t stop, and when tragedy hits home, Texans don’t stop. Deputies and local Texas Rangers were flooded out of their homes. Some lost everything they owned and as Hurricane Harvey hammered the Texas coast for days, they were out searching for Crystal.

Crystals uncle Jeff made tearful pleas to media – –

“Steve 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… I have strong feelings about what’s happened but I’d rather not voice them right now”

Jeff offered a 10,000 dollar reward and Paul offered a 5,000 dollar reward for any information on Crystals whereabouts.

A week after Harvey hit, flood waters slowly started receding and Crystals flooded car was found in a Baytown Motel 6 parking lot, abandoned with the keys inside. Two individuals were seen around her vehicle and arrested. They were soon cleared of any involvement in her disappearance and no charges were filed.


After a difficult two-week search through alligator infested swamps, waterlogged roads and intense flooding, authorities brought in Steve McDowell for questioning.

He confessed to police, stating that he strangled and killed Crystal just before Harvey made landfall. He stashed her body overnight and disposed of it the next morning, along with her cell phone and car. He then led police to her remains in a wooded area in Baytown on September 9th.

McDowell then followed his confession with a not guilty plea ahead of his trial. He said strangling Crystal McDowell were the words of the Texas Rangers and not his. He states that he “hugged Crystal to death

Steve McDowells trial began on June 2, 2019.

On June 12th, 2019, he was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the murder of Crystal McDowell.

Watch 48hours Special on Crystal Here

Crystal McDowells body found

https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/baytown-tx/crystal-mcdowell-7552481

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