The Crystal McDowell murder case is going to be the subject of a Dateline NBC episode called “Before the Storm.” The show airs 9 p.m. Monday on KPRC-Channel 2. 

The show’s description, provided by Dominique Cuce, manager of communications for NBC News Communications, states, “A mother of two who vanishes during a massive hurricane turns out not to be a victim of the storm, but of something far more sinister.”

Crystal McDowell was strangled by her ex-husband, Steven McDowell, on Aug. 25, 2017 as Hurricane Harvey was bearing down. He dumped her body the woods off of Needlepoint Road. After an intense search, led by Texas EquuSearch and members of Crystal’s family, her body was found after Steven McDowell broke down and confessed to her murder, leading officers to the location. 

During the trial of Steven McDowell, video testimony of the couple’s 7-year-old daughter revealed she had witnessed the murder of her mother. Steven McDowell was sentenced to 50 years in jail. So far, he has not filed an appeal. 

Dateline NBC correspondent Dennis Murphy will report the story.

Murphy used to be a reporter at KHOU-Channel 11, where he used to also be an assignment editor and producer. 

“You know, I was a reporter at Channel 11 for most of the ‘70s, so I never pass up a chance to refresh myself on Texas and greater Houston,” Murphy said. 

Murphy interviewed Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne as well as Chambers County District Attorney Cheryl Lieck for the show. 

“The sheriff and the deputies couldn’t have been more helpful and patient with our Dateline team,” Murphy said. “DA Cheryl Lieck is just an extraordinary person. Chambers County is lucky to have her.”

Murphy said being back on Interstate 10 was like revisiting his youth.

“Roadside barbecue, refineries, and, yes, even the aroma of all those stacks is an indelible part of my DNA,” Murphy said. “Best of all, the county, with the invaluable front and center support of the Texas Rangers came up with a solution to an ugly crime.”

Murphy also thanked members of Crystal McDowell’s family who took part in interviews for the show. 

“Thanks to Crystal’s family, Aunt Cindy and niece Jade,” he said. “You made it easy to talk about monstrous things.”

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