Murdered Texas realtor’s young children were in the next room when ex-husband strangled her

The Texas man who confessed to murdering his ex-wife told police that the former couple’s young children were in the next room when he strangled her to death.

Click2Houston reports that Steven McDowell, 44, appeared in court on Tuesday to face charges related to his ex-wife’s apparent murder.

Crystal McDowell, 37, a popular, upbeat mom of two and successful real estate agent, disappeared on August 25 after leaving her new boyfriend’s home to go pick up her children at her ex-husband’s residence, where she had been temporarily living while her own home was undergoing renovations.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Chambers County law enforcement charged Crystal’s ex-husband with her murder on Saturday, after the suspect reportedly confessed and led investigators to her body in a wooded area not far from his home.

According to Click2Houston, Chambers County deputies said in court on Tuesday that McDowell admitted to strangling his ex-wife at home while her children, ages five and seven, were in another room.

Earlier in the investigation, McDowell told authorities that Crystal never arrived at his home to pick her children up, and claimed she sent a text message saying that she was going to Dallas to ride out Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in the greater Houston area the weekend after Crystal vanished.

Crystal’s boyfriend of just about a month, Paul Hargrave, told ABC 13 that he believes McDowell timed Crystal’s murder ahead of the hurricane to help conceal the crime.

“I believe he knew exactly what he was doing. I think he knew the storm was coming in and this would help cover his tracks,” Hargrave said.

The jewelry store owner also said he believes his relationship with Crystal may have driven her ex-husband over the edge.

“I think I had a lot to do with his decision to do this and I can’t help but feel responsible for that.”

In an earlier interview with CrimeOnline, Hargrave said that Crystal and her ex had been arguing during the week before her disappearance. Crystal and Steven, who finalized their divorce in June, were planning to take their children on a cruise together in the fall. But shortly before her murder, Hargrave said that Crystal told her ex that she no longer wanted him to come along. Instead, she asked Hargrave to join her.

Steven McDowell is being held on a $500,000 bond. The couple’s children are reportedly staying with a relative on their mother’s side.


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