Husband ‘tearfully’ confesses to Texas realtor’s murder; cause of death revealed: Police

The Texas man accused of murdering his ex-wife just before Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area has reportedly revealed details of the killing in a tearful confession to police.

Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told ABC 13 that Steve McDowell, Crystal McDowell’s husband until their divorce was finalized this past June, confessed to murdering his ex-wife in his Baytown home, where Crystal was living with the couple’s two children while her townhouse was undergoing renovations.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, investigators found Crystal’s body in a wooded area not far from the realtor’s last known location on August 25, when she drove from her boyfriend’s home to her husband’s to pick up her children ahead of the hurricane.

According to the Baytown Sun, McDowell led investigators to his ex-wife’s body.

Sheriff Hawthorne said he believed Crystal was strangled in her estranged husband’s home. It is unclear where the children were at the time of the murder. They are reportedly now in the care of extended family.

The sheriff also told ABC 13 that McDowell appeared to show remorse in his confession. A motive for the apparent murder is not clear, but Crystal had started a new relationship with a local jewelry store owner, Paul Hargrave, just a month before she was killed. She had spent the night at his home the Thursday before she disappeared. In a previous interview with CrimeOnline, Hargrave said he became concerned when she stopped responding to calls and text messages on the afternoon of Friday August 25, which was uncharacteristic.

Hargrave also said that Crystal and her ex-husband had been arguing about a family cruise the couple had planned to take their children on in the fall. He said Crystal had a change of heart and no longer wanted her husband on the trip, but invited her new boyfriend along instead.

“There had been some tension and stress, and had been some potential disagreements,” Hawthorne told the news station.

In March, Crystal reportedly called police worried about her husband and children, saying that he had made threats to hurt himself and them. She said she had gotten a call from school saying that Steve had failed to drop at least one of her children off. He reportedly returned with them safely the next day, and Crystal did not press charges.

McDowell is due for an arraignment on Tuesday.


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