Texas mother of two Crystal McDowell vanished in August 2017, just before Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston area. But family -- and investigators -- were convinced her disappearance had nothing to do with the storm.
Despite a difficult childhood and losing her parents at a young age, Crystal Seratte McDowell, 37, became a successful realtor in Baytown, Texas.
In June of 2017, after 10 years of marriage, Crystal finalized her divorce from her husband, Steve McDowell.
Crystal's family and friends say the McDowell's relationship had been rocky from the start. Crystal's aunt, Cindy Seratte, tells "48 Hours" that Crystal felt Steve had become "more like a brother" than a husband.
Crystal and Steve decided to share custody of their two children. Crystal was the breadwinner.
In the summer of 2017, Crystal began dating local jeweler, Paul Hargrave. Her friends say they'd never seen her happier.
Credit: AP Images
Preparing for the storm
Crystal's boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, told "48 Hours" that on the eve of Hurricane Harvey, on August 25, Crystal left his house early in the morning.
Credit: CBS News/"48 Hours"
According to Hargrave, Crystal was supposed to pick up her kids before her ex-husband went to work.
Where is Crystal?
But Crystal's ex would soon tell other relatives she never showed up.
Raising the alarm
When Crystal stopped responding to his texts, Paul Hargrave called Crystal's uncle, Jeff Walters.
Credit: Jeff Walters
By the next day, no one had heard from Crystal. Walters reported Crystal as a missing person.