Since we first published our exclusive story on Akia Eggleston in September, many news outlets — national, online, and radio — have taken interest in her case. CrimeWatch Daily aired a story on Akia and mentioned a possible person of interest in her disappearance, but police did not identify the individual in the piece.
A month after Akia vanished, I interviewed Akia's close friend Cici Diaz. Miss Diaz stated that her cousin is the father of Akia's baby and that his girlfriend had been harassing Akia. She said the two women couldn't stand each other. Miss Diaz also stated that the woman had been sending Akia threatening text messages. However, our sources indicate that both the father of Akia's unborn child and the woman have been interviewed by investigators and are not suspects.
In a bizarre twist, people posting on a FB page for this case claim the woman, who was allegedly harassing Akia, has not shown up for work and that friends and colleagues have been unable to get in touch with her.
The national media attention this case is now getting is long overdue and will hopefully lead to answers for Akia's family. Don't forget, Akia was 8-months pregnant and also has a three-year-old daughter who misses her mom and will one day want to know what happened to her. That little girl deserves answers.
Akia's family deserves a lot of credit for this latest development. They've been pushing for answers and media attention. They know that if they don't keep Akia's story out there, chances are it will be forgotten. Hopefully, this reward will prompt someone to come forward with information that will help investigators find the now 23-year-old mom and bring her home to her family.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact the FBI's Baltimore Field Office at (410) 265-8080 or the Baltimore Police at (410) 396-2499.
We've obtained the last surveillance images of Baltimore mom Akia Eggleston captured at a BB&T bank the day she disappeared.
Akia, who was 8 months pregnant, vanished on May 3, 2017. Her family and Baltimore police hope the pictures generate leads that will help detectives find Akia and bring her home.
We recently traveled to Maryland to meet with Akia's stepfather Shawn Wilkinson and Baltimore PD spokesperson T.J. Smith, to discuss the bizarre circumstances surrounding Akia's disappearance.
Akia's absence has taken its toll on her family. They urge the community to come forward with information and help investigators find the now 23-year-old mom who also left behind a 3-year-old daughter.
If you have information on Akia Eggleston's whereabouts, please call:
Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-2587. There's a $25,000 reward being offered in this case.
The search for Houston-area realtor and mother of two young children, Crystal McDowell, ended Saturday, September 9 — more than two weeks after she disappeared.
The Chambers County Sheriff's Office says detectives and Texas Rangers discovered Crystal's body in a marshy wooded area near Needlepoint Road. According to the CCSO, Crystal's ex-husband Steven Wayne McDowell, 44, confessed to killing his ex-wife and has been charged with murder.
The couple's children, 5 and 8, are now with Crystal's family, KTRK reports.
Below is surveillance video of Crystal McDowell leaving her boyfriend's home the morning of August 25 - the day she vanished and before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. They are the last images of the 37-year-old realtor and former flight attendant as she headed to Steven McDowell's place to pick up their children. Crystal's boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, was kind enough to share the video clips.
According to the CCSO, Crystal and Steven McDowell were divorced earlier this year but were still living together while her place was being remodeled.
The motive behind Crystal's death has not been released.
Update: An arrest was made in this gruesome case. The victim identified as Steven Coleman was shot and dismembered by his girlfriend, 30-year-old Cierra Sutton, according to Baytown Police. Sutton was arrested in New Orleans and charged with murder.
He was somebody's son and possibly somebody's father, husband, brother, friend.
His torso was found among the piles of trash dumped at the Waste Management Baytown Landfill in Chambers County, Texas, on Aug. 22. Few details are available, but preliminary autopsy results indicate the remains are of a male between 13 and 50 years old. His identity and cause of death are still unknown.
Who was he? What happened to him? How did he end up in the trash?
According to the Chambers County Sheriff's Office, a machine operator at the facility spotted the human remains on Aug. 22. The remains, investigators say, came from solid waste collected in Harris, Liberty or Chambers County that same day.
With help from Texas Rangers and Texas Department of Criminal Justice cadaver dogs, Chambers County detectives spent several days searching the landfill, but it's unclear if anything else related to this case was found.
Detectives are looking at missing persons reports and are asking for the public's help to solve this case.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office at 409-267-2500 or Chambers County Crime Stoppers at 844-860-8477.
By: Claudia Rivero
As Texas braced for Hurricane Harvey's arrival, one Houston-area family desperately searched for their loved one who mysteriously vanished right before the storm.
37-year-old realtor Crystal Seratte McDowell was last seen on surveillance video leaving her boyfriend's apartment the morning of Aug. 25, hours before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. According to local and national media reports, Crystal was headed to pick up her children, 5 and 8, at the home she shared with her ex-husband in Baytown - a suburb east of Houston. She hasn't been seen or heard from since.
Crystal's uncle Jeff Walters told reporters that his niece was scheduled to meet clients that afternoon but never showed up. Walters filed a missing person report the next day, but by then Hurricane Harvey was pounding the region, stretching resources thin and making it difficult for investigators to conduct a search. Walters went on to say that Crystal's ex-husband showed him a text message, reportedly from Crystal, stating that she would be picking up the kids and heading to Dallas to ride out the storm. Walters told CBS News he doubts the text was sent by his niece.
According to reports, Crystal's black 2013 Mercedes Benz was found partially submerged in flood water at a Motel 6 parking lot in Mont Belvieu, 12 miles away from the ex-husband's home. Two people were questioned but have since been released.
According to media reports, Crystal — a realtor at Virginia Malone & Associates, LLC, in Baytown, — texted her boyfriend the morning of Aug. 25 saying that road conditions looked good. That was the last time he heard from her. Crystal's last post on social media was on Aug. 24.
In addition to local coverage, the story was also picked up by the national media — CBS, NBC, along with Inside Edition, HLN, and People Magazine.
In an interview with HLN, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said: "I personally think that there is some wrong doing in this. I think there's some suspicious nature. I don't think she left on her own. I think there's obviously some foul play at this time." In another interview with CBS This Morning Hawthorne said he is "very, very confident" that McDowell is not a victim of the storm.
According to court records, Crystal and her ex-husband's divorce was finalized earlier this year. Crystal's boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, has been vocal about Crystal's disappearance - speaking with news outlets and contributing to a reward that now stands at $15,000 for information that leads to Crystal's whereabouts.
I've reached out to her uncle Jeff Walters, her boyfriend Paul Hargrave, and her ex-husband Steven McDowell and will update if they respond.
Crystal's family has hired a private investigator from Unlimited Investigations and Research Services. Anyone with information on Crystal McDowell is asked to call the Chamber's County Sheriff's Office at 409-267-2500.
Antonio “TJ” Vela Jr. a.k.a. Speshul Ed is known for his sense of humor, his passion for music, and for being the kind of guy who's always there for his family and friends.
TJ, 36, hails from Victoria, Texas, a city of about 67,000 residents, located two hours south of Houston. Those who know TJ say he fell in love with Victoria’s underground hip-hop scene, prompting him to become a rapper and music producer. Samples of his work can be found under the record label Clock Work Records, as well as on SoundCloud and on Youtube.
Andro Gonzales-Crail is good friends with TJ.
“I call him ‘Spesh’ and have known him for over seven years,” Gonzales-Crail told me recently.
“On the outside, he looks like this intimidating, tough guy, but once you get to know him, he’s just the nicest person you could ever meet.”
June 15, 2017
Gonzales-Crail bartends at Sports — a local pub where TJ hangs out — located in the Victoria Square shopping center on John Stockbauer Drive. That’s where he last saw his friend on June 15, 2017. He says it was a quiet night and that TJ was one of about eight customers who stayed until closing time — 2 a.m.
“He did know the people he was talking to, and he was one of the last to leave. He yelled ‘Love y’all’ as he walked out, and that’s the last time anyone saw him," Gonzales-Crail recalls.
The Vela family began to worry when calls and text messages to TJ's phone went unanswered later that day. In an unsettling twist, according to a source familiar with the case, TJ's roommate found the garage door open and on the ground were TJ's cell phone and a plastic bag containing food he apparently purchased on his way home from Sports. Even more disturbing, the next day, the Vela family received a tip about a car that matched TJ's 1999 tan Pontiac Firebird, abandoned with a flat tire, 17 miles away near Venglar Road, a rural area in the town of Inez.
According to local media reports, Victoria Police and the Department of Public Safety conducted an aerial search of the location where the car was found. Although Victoria Police suspect foul play, they remain tight-lipped on the investigation.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Gonzales-Crail said. “It’s been two months since he’s been gone, and it sucks that there are no leads.”
People Don't Just Disappear
Family and friends do not believe that TJ left on his own. Is it possible that someone followed TJ from the bar to his house on Waterford Drive? Or from Cimarron Express — the convenience store where he reportedly stopped to get something to eat? Was someone waiting for him in the garage at his house? Was he ambushed? Or did TJ startle someone who was up to no good in the neighborhood? And what about where his car was abandoned? The location is nowhere near his house. If TJ was taken against his will, is it possible that someone else was following in a separate car? Is there surveillance video of him anywhere from the night he vanished? Is the FBI involved in the investigation? Most of all, if TJ's phone was left behind (Victoria Police won't confirm that it was), does it hold the key to solving this case?
I asked those questions to Lt. Eline Moya, spokeswoman for the Victoria Police Department.
"Unfortunately, due to this case being an open and active investigation, I am unable to go into specific details about this case that may jeopardize the integrity of the investigation. The detectives continue to receive Crime Stoppers tips and continue to follow up on all leads," Moya said in an email.
The not knowing haunts the Vela family. But they say the most difficult part is that, even though TJ is well-known in their community, no one is coming forward with solid information. His sisters have turned to social media to express their frustration.
The Vela family is also hoping for more media coverage. For now, they spend several days a week handing out flyers throughout the community and holding up banners with TJ's picture. They urge anyone with information to call the Victoria Police Department and give investigators the piece of the puzzle they need to bring their little brother home.
According to Gonzales-Crail, he and his friends have also distributed flyers all the way to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi. He's also contacted the local FBI for help. "We're not giving up hope, but each passing day gets harder and harder," Gonzales-Crail said. "If I had known that night that it would be the last time I would see him, I would have told him how much I loved him, how much he is loved, and how much his friendship meant to me."
Antonio Vela Jr. is 6'0 and 185 lbs. He was last seen wearing a gray t-shirt, denim jeans, and black and white Nike sneakers. He has several tattoos including: angel wings and a woman on his back, a Nintendo game controller and a microphone on his left forearm, and a tattoo of his father on his chest.
If you have any information regarding Antonio Vela Jr., call: 1-361-572-4200.
BREAKING: Nearly three months after Akia Eggleston vanished, Baltimore Police now suspect foul play in her disappearance. The 22-year-old was 35 weeks into a high-risk pregnancy when she went missing in late April or early May.
At first, investigators believed that Akia left on her own. However, given the amount of time that has passed, they now say that it's likely something may have happened to Akia and her child. Below is what the Baltimore Police spokesperson told local media:
“At this state, I think we’re prepared to pivot, that foul play is something that we’re absolutely exploring,” Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith says. “We’re obviously beyond the point where she could have given birth.”
If you know where Akia Eggleston is, call the Baltimore Police Missing Persons Division at: 443-984-7385.
Video Source: Baltimore PD Periscope
Imagine the pain the families of four young men shot dead, burned and buried on a property in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, are going through right now.
Nothing can prepare a family for the moment when police officers knock on the door to confirm a loved one's death. If you've never had to experience that door knock, consider yourself blessed. I can tell you from personal experience, it haunts you for life.
The victims are identified as: Dean Finocchario, 19; Thomas Meo, 21; Mark Sturgis, 22; and Jimi Patrick, 19. Their families reported them missing the week of July 6 and from there the investigation took off. This case is a perfect example of how crucial it is for investigators to reach out to the media on missing persons cases, and for the media to respond, especially in those first few hours.
How can the public be expected to come forward with information if they don't even know someone's missing?
Bucks County District Attorney, Matthew Weintraub, was front and center from the start of this investigation, holding multiple news conferences and encouraging the public to provide tips "Keep them coming" he said numerous times. Pictures of the victims were shown on every news channel--local and national--as well as online.
The public responded by providing crucial information to investigators. As a result of those efforts from the public, the media and most of all due to outstanding police work, this case resulted in the arrest of cousins, Cosmo DiNardo, 20, and Sean Kratz, 20.
According to the probable cause affidavit, all four bodies were found on a property belonging to DiNardo's parents. Three of the bodies were buried in a 12-foot-deep common grave, the fourth was buried in a shallow grave not far from the others. In exchange for his confession to the killings, DiNardo won't face the death penalty. Both men are being held without bond.
Although heart-wrenching, at least the victims will be returned to their families and justice will soon prevail. Thank goodness the four young men weren't dismissed as just runaways or troubled youth. The chilling details of their final moments, allegedly over drug deals gone wrong, will haunt their families and the community where this atrocity occurred for years to come.
But at least the families have answers. Their sons' cases won't go cold. Their files won't sit somewhere collecting dust. Most important, they won't have to live with the not knowing as so many families of missing loved ones do. Many missing persons - especially minorities — don't get any media coverage at all.
Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland is offering a $2,000 reward for information on Akia Eggleston. Akia was eight months pregnant when she disappeared without a trace.
There seems to be conflicting information on when Akia was last seen. Initially it was said May 3, but Metro Crime Stoppers now say it was April 29.
Akia's public Facebook page shows she was last active on April 28, but a close friend of Akia's shared two posts from May 3. In one post, Akia, who uses the profile name New Chi, expresses excitement about her daughter going to summer camp. In the other message, Akia (assuming it's her posting) seems upset. Is it possible that Akia argued with someone that day? If so, with who? It's not clear if investigators have gained access to her cell phone records, social media messages or email accounts.
If you know where Akia is or who she's with, call: 1-866-7-LOCKUP
Claudia Rivero Reporter and Producer