Texas mom Crystal McDowell knew Hurricane Harvey was coming, and she wanted to pick up her two children from her ex-husband’s house before it hit.
According to her ex-husband, Steven McDowell, whom she divorced in June, she was planning to drive to Dallas with the kids and stay there for the duration of the storm.
So, as CBS News reports, on the morning of August 25, the 37-year-old said goodbye to her boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, and embarked on the 18-mile trek to her ex-husband’s home.
McDowell texted Hargrave while she was on her way. He recalled:
“She texted me to say road conditions were good around 8:30 a.m.”
When McDowell failed to show up for an appointment that afternoon, her uncle, Jeff Walters, with whom she works, grew worried.
McDowell’s last post on social media was on the evening of August 24 — the night before she left to pick up her kids:
Her last known communication was the 8:30 a.m. text to Hargrave on August 25.
Following the missed appointment, on August 26, Walters called the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office and filed a missing person’s report. By that point, Hurricane Harvey was making landfall, and while authorities began to search for the missing woman, their efforts were thwarted by the weather.
The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to locate Crystal Seratte McDowell, a 37 year old white female who…
Hargrave and Walters continued their attempts to find McDowell as the flood waters rose. Eventually, someone spotted a 2013 black Mercedes with a license plate that matched hers in a Motel 6 parking lot.
Two individuals were seen in the partially submerged vehicle. When police arrived on the scene, they questioned the two individuals but determined that they did not have any connection to McDowell’s disappearance.Screenshot/CBS News
Brian Hawthorne of the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office does not believe McDowell’s disappearance has anything to do with Harvey. According to CBS News:
Hawthorne said he is “very, very confident” that McDowell is not a victim of the storm.
And Walters is suspicious. He said:
“[S]he’s not one to leave. And she would always be in contact with her and her children.”
In fact, Walters is particularly suspicious of Steven’s assertion that McDowell had planned to drive to Dallas with the kids, especially since Walters himself had made plans to drive there with his 87-year-old aunt. He said:
“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.”
Hargrave, who began dating McDowell after her divorce was finalized in June, admitted that she and Steven were not on the best of terms:
“I think she wanted to get out of that situation as soon as possible.”
Hawthorne said he believes that animosity between the boyfriend and the ex husband may have the two pointing fingers at each other.
Suspicions aside, McDowell’s family just wants her found. They are offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can provide information about where McDowell may be.
McDowell is described as a 5-foot-4-inch, 110-pound female with blonde hair and green eyes. Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts should contact the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division at (409) 267-2500.
As the search continues, the children remain in Steven’s custody.