“48 HOURS” GOES INSIDE THE INVESTIGATION AS SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES AND TEXAS RANGERS SEARCH FOR A MISSING WOMAN DURING HURRICANE HARVEY, IN “STORM OF SUSPICION”
Saturday, Oct. 28, 10:00 PM, ET/PT
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48 HOURS gained unprecedented access inside the command center in Baytown, Texas, a suburb of Houston, as investigators searched for a beautiful young mother reported missing just before Hurricane Harvey hit, in “Storm of Suspicion,” to be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 28 (10:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
As police and emergency first responders struggled to keep up with the damaging storm, a dedicated team of police investigators gathered to track every clue left behind in the disappearance of Crystal McDowell, a divorced mother of two. McDowell was last seen leaving a boyfriend’s home on the morning of August 25 to pick up her children, who were staying with her ex-husband, Steve McDowell, who said she never arrived.
Her uncle later alerted deputies she was missing after she failed to respond to calls and text messages.
“I’ve been a lawyer for 24 years,” Chambers County District Attorney Cheryl Lieck tells correspondent Maureen Maher. “I’ve never seen anything like this. And especially this type of thing coupled with the storm.”
In the days that followed, Harvey dumped historic levels of rain on Texas, tying up emergency services and roadways, flooding homes and forcing all available first responders into rescuing people. The storm made regular life difficult at best, let alone conducting a missing person’s investigation.
“We had deputies that were flooded out of their homes,” Lieck says. “One of our investigators lost his entire house. Our local Texas Ranger and his wife were flooded out of theirs.”
Yet they came to work and focused on finding McDowell.
With the war room created, deputies had plenty of people to speak with, starting with her ex-husband, Steve McDowell; her boyfriend, Paul Hargrave; and her uncle, Jeff Walters. But there were others. Away from her family, McDowell was a fun-loving, bright, outgoing woman who spent a decade as a flight attendant. She was also active on social media and in the dating scene.
“My gut tells me there’s something catastrophically wrong with this scenario,” says Hargrave.
He wasn’t alone.
“Automatically as a sheriff, I know that mothers don’t leave their children,” says Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne. “And there’s obviously never a good time for someone to become missing, but the timing was terrible.”
The first break for investigators was the discovery of McDowell’s black Mercedes Benz, found in a flooded Motel 6 parking lot. How did it get there? And where was she? The investigation would uncover fractured relationships and hidden family secrets.
“This case is about secrets,” Lieck says. “Double lives on many people’s parts. It’s one of those cases. I think I’ve seen it all, but I haven’t seen anything like this.”
What happened to Crystal McDowell? Through interviews with investigators and family members, 48 HOURS: “Storm of Suspicion” follows the team as they piece together the last known moments of McDowell’s life, how police found her body, and the shocking arrest that would leave family members stunned.
48 HOURS: “Storm of Suspicion” is produced by Chris Young Ritzen, Susan Mallie, Marc Goldbaum, Josh Yager, Lourdes Aguiar, Ryan Smith and Claire St. Amant. Mike McHugh, Phil Tangel, Marcus Balsam, Marlon Disla, Joan Adelman, Mike Baluzy, Michelle Harris and Jake Day are the editors. Anthony Batson is the senior broadcast producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.