Husband ‘used hurricane to hide murder’

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A TEXAS man has appeared in court charged with the murder of his ex-wife who disappeared just before Hurricane Harvey

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Supplied Editorial Steve McDowell. Picture: Facebook

A TEXAS man has appeared in court charged with the murder of his ex-wife who disappeared just before Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

Police said Steven McDowell, 44, confessed to strangling Crystal Seratte McDowell, 37, to death in the lounge room of his home on August 25. Their children, aged five and eight, were in the next room.

Mrs McDowell, a realtor, had been divorced for three months and was staying with her boyfriend of three weeks, Paul Hargrave, when she went to her ex’s house to pick up the children, according to


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Steven McDowell has been charged in the death of his ex-wife. Picture: Chambers County Sheriff’s Office via AP Source: AP

She was last seen on Mr Hargrave’s surveillance footage getting into her black Mercedes Benz. She was reported missing the next day.

“She did send me some text messages … a little after that (leaving Mr Hargrave’s house),” Mr Hargrave said. “She had mentioned that she was going to stay at the house, the ex-husband’s house, with the kids or, depending on traffic and how weather conditions were, she was going to take them out.”

McDowell told relatives that his ex-wife had texted him saying she planned to go to Dallas with the kids, according to


Four days later, after Harvey made landfall, Mrs McDowell’s car was found in a motel car park about 11km from her house.

Detectives said there was “some real possibility” her disappearance was planned to coincide with the hurricane, according to


Mrs McDowell’s body was found two weeks later when police traced her mobile phone to a marsh in Texas.

Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told the

Houston Chronicle

that they don’t yet know the motive in the slaying. He told the

Baytown Sun

that early indications show Mrs McDowell was strangled, but the autopsy report is not yet back.

McDowell is being held on $US500,000 ($623,000) bond. He wept in court on Wednesday.

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Paul Hargrave with his girlfriend Crystal McDowell, who was allegedly killed by her ex-husband. Picture: Paul Hargrave via AP Source: AP

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