Houston-Area Realtor Vanished Before Hurricane Harvey, Search Underway

September 1, 2017 Updated: September 1, 2017

A realtor in Texas vanished before Hurricane Harvey’s winds and floods hit the area last week, according to media reports.

Crystal McDowell told her boyfriend that she was leaving to pick up her two young children from her ex-husband’s home—right before the storm hit southern Texas last Friday, Aug. 25.

McDowell worked as a realtor for Virginia Malone and Associates, LLC.

“She texted me to say road conditions were good around 8:30 a.m.,” her boyfriend Paul Hargrave told CBS. “I immediately tried to get there, but the floodwaters were just too high,” Hargrave added.

Someone eventually saw her vehicle, which was partially submerged in water in a hotel parking lot.



The woman, who is active on social media, hasn’t posted anything since then.

McDowell’s last Facebook post was Friday, “Stay safe out there!”

Her uncle, Jeff Walters, reported her as a missing person on Saturday.

Then, Walters and Hargrave tried to raise awareness about her disappearance on social media, and they were inundated with “armchair detectives” and false alarms, including one person who tried to extort them, CBS said. Two people were seen inside her car and were taken in for questioning.

McDowell, 37, of Baytown, missed a meeting with a client on Friday afternoon, but it’s unclear if that was in relation to the impending hurricane.

“She had canceled a different appointment that morning because that closing couldn’t happen till the next week, but we aren’t sure if she made the other two appointments that day,” Walters said, per NBC News. “We haven’t been able to see the files on her computer, so we don’t know who she was going to be with.”

“They do not believe they were involved with Crystal’s disappearance,” Walters said.

The woman’s ex-husband gave Walters an explanation.

Flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey encompass the Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S. August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey encompass the Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

“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,” Walters said.

Both Walters and Hargrave said they’re skeptical that she wanted to go to Dallas, as Walters went to Dallas from Baytown to escape Harvey. If she wanted to go, she likely would have joined him.

“I have strong feelings about what’s happened but I’d rather not voice them right now,” Walters said.

According to NBC, “Crystal Seratte McDowell is described as 5’4″ tall, weighing 120 lbs. with blonde hair. Anyone with information about her case is urged to call the Chambers County Police Department at (409) 267-2500.”