Murder of Crystal McDowell by ex-husband Steve McDowell examined by Paula Zahn on ID

Profile pic of Crystal McDowell and mugshot of Steve McDowell
Steve McDowell was sentenced to 50 years for killing his ex-wife, Crystal McDowell. Pic credit: ID/Facebook and Chambers County Sheriff’s Office

On The Case With Paula Zahn is in Baytown, Texas, to investigate the murder of Crystal McDowell, a mother of two young children, who was strangled to death by ex-husband, Steve McDowell.

Crystal was a successful 37-year-old realtor attempting to move on from a failed marriage when her life was tragically cut short by an ex-husband who refused to let her move on.

On August 26th, 2017, Crystal told her boyfriend that she was going to collect her two children from the home of her ex-husband, Stephen ‘Steve’ McDowell. She was not seen alive again.

An uncle reported her missing the next day to Chambers County Sheriff’s Office. Unfortunately, the search for Crystal was seriously hampered as Hurricane Harvey had smashed into the Gulf Coast just hours after she went missing.

The search had to be postponed while the emergency services focused on dealing with extensive flooding and mass evacuations. However, a search commenced a couple of days later.

Searches found Crystal McDowell’s car underwater

Her Mercedes car was found submerged underwater at a motel just off an interstate highway, but there was no sign of Crystal herself.

The cops managed to trace her cellphone to a marshy area of Baytown, and they eventually found her body five days after she’d been murdered. An autopsy revealed that she’d been strangled.

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The police were instantly suspicious of ex-husband Steve McDowell, who they believed was the last person to see her alive. He tried to concoct a story by claiming she had left for Dallas, but the cops were buying it.

The pressure on McDowell heightened even further when he failed a polygraph test. Eventually, he confessed to the detectives that he was the murderer.

In the Spring of 2019, McDowell was put on trial, and despite his initial confession, he pleaded not guilty. However, the jury sided with the prosecution, and he was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

More from On The Case With Paula Zahn

Follow the links to read about more crimes investigated by Paula Zahn.

Molly Bish was just 16 years old when she vanished from her job as a lifeguard in Warren, Massachusetts. Her dead body was located a few miles away, and her murder remains unsolved.

In 1985, Marsi Belecz ran away from home after an argument with her father. Tragically, a few days later, her remains were discovered in a towing yard. It took 35 years for DNA evidence to reveal Clayton Giese as the killer.

On The Case With Paula Zahn airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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