New information has emerged about the disappearance of a Houston-area real estate agent just before Hurricane Harvey, further deepening the mystery of what might have happened to the mother of two.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Crystal Seratte McDowell went missing last week just ahead of the devastating storm. After she stopped responding to texts and went unusually quiet on social media, her uncle Jeff Walters, who works with her at a family-run real estate agency, reported her missing.
McDowell’s boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, is believed to have been the last person to see her before she disappeared.
According to CBS News, Hargrave said McDowell told him she was going to pick up her children, ages five and eight, at her ex-husband’s home in Baytown, Texas, Friday morning.
“She texted me to say road conditions were good around 8:30 a.m.,” Hargrave told CBS News.
That is believed to be the last contact she had with family and friends, and she missed an appointment with a client that afternoon.
After Walters and Hargrave posted on social media about McDowell’s disappearance, a witness came forward to say that they had seen her car, a black Mercedes, outside a Motel 6 in Mont Belvieu, partially submerged in water.
“I immediately tried to get there, but the flood waters were just too high,” Hargrave said.
Walters told the news station the police questioned two people who were found in McDowell’s car, but that he did not believe they had anything to do with her disappearance.
Her uncle also said that Crystal’s ex-husband showed him a text message in which she said she was taking the children and going to Dallas to get away from the storm.
“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 told CBS News, adding, “I have strong feelings about what’s happened but I’d rather not voice them right now.”
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said on CBS This Morning that authorities have prioritized the search for the 37-year-old mother despite treacherous weather conditions and desperate rescue attempts in the wake of the deadly storm.
“We are hampered by some of the flood issues, but we are as aggressive as ever trying to locate and find Crystal McDowell,” Hawthorne said.
The sheriff said he believed Crystal was not a victim of the storm.
McDowell’s family has offered a $10,000 reward for information about her possible whereabouts.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office at 409-267-2500.
Feature photo: Facebook