A search is underway for a Texas realtor and mother of two who disappeared around 24 hours before the devastating Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the Lone Star State.
Crystal McDowell left her boyfriend’s house on Aug. 25 to pick up her children from her ex-husband, 18 miles away in Baytown, Texas. Her plan was to get the children ahead of major traffic from Hurricane Harvey evacuees, CBS News reported.
“She texted me to say road conditions were good around 8:30 a.m.,” McDowell’s boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, told CBS.
That was the last time anyone heard from her. McDowell’s uncle, Jeff Walters, reported her missing on Saturday.
The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office has started an investigation into McDowell’s disappearance and posted information on social media, but the effects of Harvey have hindered the search.
“We are hampered by some of the flood issues, but we are as aggressive as ever trying to locate and find Crystal McDowell,” Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told CBS.
After Hargrave and Walters posted details about the woman and her Mercedes on social media they were inundated with false alarms, and one extortion attempt. But eventually they did get one good lead.
Someone spotted McDowell’s car, partially submerged at a Motel 6.
But Chief Hawthorne said he is “very, very confident” that McDowell is not a victim of Harvey.
Hargrave said he tried to get to the motel but the waters were too high. Two men who were found inside McDowell’s car were detained, but authorities do not believe they have any involvement in her disappearance, Hargrave told CBS.
Walters said he spoke to McDowell’s ex-husband and is leery about his story.
“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,” he said.
“I have strong feelings about what’s happened but I’d rather not voice them right now,” he added.
McDowell’s children are safe and in the custody of her ex-husband, their father.
The family is offering a $10,000 reward for information related to her disappearance.
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