It’s Realtor Safety month, so tell me if this story sounds somewhat familiar. An agent is hosting an open house and is pretty much by themselves save for a few people coming in and out, maybe one or two at a time. However, one attendee seems to move slowly through the home, almost as if they are waiting for others to leave. The agent begins to feel uncomfortable with the situation.

That’s about how things were unfolding when a Tinley Park, Illinois, real estate agent came across Stanley Keller, 50, an ex-con. Keller was the only visitor at the agent’s open house, according to the National Association of Realtors.

[Keller] asked to see the upstairs bedrooms, the basement, and garage, according to a police report. The agent told police that during the home tour, she felt her body begin to vibrate, and her speech started to slur. When she turned around, Keller had his arm extended toward her with the stun gun in his hand, she said.

Unfortunately, attacks like this one aren’t new territory for real estate agents or even clients for that matter. According to the recent 2019 Realtor Safety Report from NAR, 33 percent of Realtors experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety. The typical Realtor reported feeling unsafe less than once a year (54 percent) in terms of personal safety, but unsafe in terms of personal information every few months or more often (61 percent).

In 2006, McKinney real estate agent Sarah Walker was brutally assaulted and murdered in a model home. Walker was alone at the time. In 2017, Crystal McDowell, a Houston-area real estate agent, went missing during Hurricane Harvey. She was alone when her ex-husband allegedly killed her. The list goes on, and in an industry that focuses on service above all else, safety precautions have been slow to establish.

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When real estate agent Crystal McDowell went missing, the community, still suffering from Hurricane Harvey’s wrath, responded in masse. Watch as 48 Hours digs deep into the story tonight. (Courtesy Photo)

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, first responders were left scrambling to help evacuate neighborhoods and keep some sense of order in the enormous city. But that didn’t keep police from searching for Crystal McDowell, a divorced mother of two, who was last seen leaving her boyfriend’s home on the morning of Aug. 25. McDowell was supposed to pick up her children, who were staying with her ex-husband, Steve McDowell. Steven said that Crystal never made it there.

Crystal, a real estate agent with Virginia Malone & Associates (her family’s brokerage) and devoted mother, was well known and loved on social media. Her disappearance triggered a huge response, with people searching for her despite the record amounts of rain and flooding throughout Baytown, where she lived, and the region at large. It’s a sad tale of double lives, jealousy, and the power of community, and you can see it all play out in 48 Hours‘ “Storm of Suspicion” tonight, Oct. 28, at 9 p.m. 

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