While retrieving Christmas decorations from a closet in Texas, an unsuspecting woman made the ghastly discovery of her husband’s lifeless body eight months after he had gone missing.
Crystal McDowell reported her husband, Steven McDowell, missing in August 2017 when Hurricane Harvey had caused devastating flooding in the region. Despite their best efforts to locate him for two years, the 52-year-old was finally identified as deceased recently.
On August 25th, 2017, Crystal McDowell reported to law enforcement that her husband had left their Baytown abode early in the morning with intention of inspecting some real estate holdings he owned nearby. Sadly though, he never made it back home.
Following his vanishing, authorities initiated a wide-ranging search for McDowell with the aid of helicopters and canines. Unfortunately, their attempts were futile as they found no trace of him.
On a winter evening in December 2017, Crystal McDowell was decorating her house for the holidays. Little did she know that when she opened a closet to find Christmas decorations, it would be the last time she’d ever see her husband alive. Located near Baytown in rural Texas, this tragedy occurred inside an abandoned home that Crystal had been preparing to sell.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office commenced an investigation into McDowell’s passing, which they deemed a homicide. Regretfully, the inquiry was at a standstill due to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath as multiple police departments had to be reallocated towards assistance with restoring operations in the area.
Undeterred by the roadblocks, investigators persisted with their inquiry until June 2018 when a grand jury indicted Crystal McDowell’s former husband, Paul Hargrave (aged 45), for the homicide of Steven McDowell. Subsequently, authorities arrested and charged him with murder.
Court records indicate that Crystal McDowell was involved in a contentious child custody case with Hargrave regarding their two children and had been seeing Steven McDowell prior to his mysterious disappearance.
The prosecution argued that Hargrave had killed Steven McDowell in order to gain a competitive edge for Crystal’s affections and win the impending custody battle. Despite this, Hargrave adamantly denied all charges presented against him.
In October 2019, the three-week trial commenced and the prosecution furnished evidence from cell phone records, surveillance videos, and witness testimonies. The defense contended that there was no explicit proof tying Hargrave to the homicide.
Consequently, the jury ruled Hargrave guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison. The decision provided a sense of closure for Steven McDowell’s family who had endured nearly 15 months without any answers.
The case exemplifies the power of tenacity in criminal investigations, even when faced with difficulties like natural disasters. Additionally, it serves as a reminder for law enforcement bodies to join forces and cooperate if they wish to successfully solve intricate cases.