You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Sheriff: Ex-husband admits to strangling Baytown Realtor

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 9/14/2017 Keri Blakinger

UP NEXT
UP NEXT
Video provided by Fox News

The Baytown man accused of murdering his ex-wife on the eve of Hurricane Harvey offered a teary confession under questioning, said Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne.

After the Saturday admission, accused killer Steven McDowell led investigators to the body of Crystal McDowell, who he admitted to strangling then leaving in a wooded area in the western part of the county.

"We really don't have any motive at this point in time," Hawthorne said.

Crystal McDowell. © Facebook Crystal McDowell. The 37-year-old mother of two went missing Aug. 25, after texting her boyfriend that she was on her way to her ex-husband's house. When she failed to show up for work, her friends knew something was wrong and the following day, her uncle reported her missing.

Days later, her flooded car turned up at a Motel 6 near Interstate 10, and authorities tracked her final cell phone ping to a marshy area of Baytown. The storm hampered initial recovery efforts, but once the skies began to clear, volunteer search crews combed the area on foot and in ATVs.

The family called in a private investigator, and detectives questioned those who knew her best. Eventually, deputies brought in Steven McDowell, and wound up with a full confession, Hawthorne said. He was charged with murder.

Crystal McDowell, left, was found dead Saturday. Her ex-husband is expected to face a murder charge. © Morgan Raimondi Crystal McDowell, left, was found dead Saturday. Her ex-husband is expected to face a murder charge. Crystal McDowell filed for divorce early in the year, court records show. She was granted the divorce three months before her disappearance, though Hawthorne said she was still staying with her ex-husband while her townhome was remodeled.

The couple's children - ages 5 and 8 - were allowed to stay with their father following their mother's disappearance, but were handed over to CPS custody following Saturday's arrest.

Steve McDowell was charged with murder after his ex-wife's body was recovered more than two weeks after she went missing. © Chambers County Sheriff Office Steve McDowell was charged with murder after his ex-wife's body was recovered more than two weeks after she went missing. Despite pervasive online rumors to the contrary, Hawthorne said there is no reason to believe the children saw the crime.

McDowell is being held on $500,000 bail, Hawthorne said, and is due in court Tuesday.

More from Houston Chronicle

Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon