Mother recounts ill-fated search for Chrissy Powell

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Mother recounts ill-fated search for Chrissy Powell

Claudia Mobley is now a retired teacher of computer at Rhodes Elementary for a few years.

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As she prepared for retirement, she’d looked forward to spending more time with her own family, who lived with her at her Medical Center-area home, including her daughter, Christina “Chrissy”Lee Powell and Ryan Powell, her great-grandson.

Powell was herself a paralegal. The 39-year-old was one week into a permanent position at Sanchez and Wilson, which is located at 6243West Interstate 10 Ryan, Ryan’s older son, was at band camp honing his skills as a musician on the euphonium.

Powell vanished on her way to work on July 5. After two weeks of searching and wild guesses, Powell was found dead in her SUV at the Huebner Oaks Shopping Center in the North Side.

The sprawling shopping center is about four miles away from Powell’s home, a 10-minute drive down Huebner Road.

Powell had been sleeping too much the day before her disappearance. Powell was called by work at 10 a.m. to inquire where she was. She said she would be late.

Christina, a missing woman from San Antonio “Chrissy”Powell was found close to the Medical Center. 

San Antonio Police Department

Mobley recalled seeing her daughter sprint out of the door without her usual routine of getting ready for the day. Mobley stated that even though she forgot her iPhone, her Apple Watch continued to work, contrary to other reports.

Powell was slightly pale due to oversleeping, and Powell was hurried.

“She just kind of threw herself together and said she was late, zoomed out the door,”Mobley was recalled.

Powell left the front door unlocked as she drove straight to her 2020 Nissan Rogue, which was parked in front.

“Be careful,”Her mother still remembers telling her. The doorbell camera captured footage of what might have been Powell’s last steps at 10:34 a.m. — video that would circulate online after her disappearance.

Mobley believed her daughter had made it to work, until later that day, when a colleague showed up at her door with two officers. They spoke with Powell’s son, Ryan, and asked him to check to make sure she wasn’t in her room.

“That’s when I knew she hadn’t showed up to work,”Mobley said.

She began calling people she hoped might know of her daughter’s whereabouts: the father of Powell’s 3-year-old son, Elijah; her best friend; her ex-husband. She could have been visiting her father in Utah, or Powell might have flown to visit her sister.

Mobley searched along her daughter’s route to work. She drove off the route with the help of a friend and checked out parking lots at Walmart and hotels.

In reporting her disappearance to police, she emphasized Powell’s struggle with anxiety and depression. Powell took two medications before going to bed. After three days, Powell received two medicines before going to bed. Police issued a missing persons bulletin.

Police would “take notes, but they wouldn’t put her on the missing persons list,”Mobley said. “But they finally did. It seemed like it was after I emphasized the depression and anxiety.”

Now, Mobley, 70, is left to grapple with the questions that surround her daughter’s death, particularly how Powell could be left there for so long in a parking lot that is often busy with people eating at restaurants and shopping at big box retail stores.

The agony of waiting

The Monday morning atmosphere is still, quiet at Mobley’s house. The living room is her sanctuary. She is calm and collected as she sits on a soft, green sofa chair.

A large window lets light in through the room. This allows for a great view of the back yard, where you can see two dogs and a variety of plants.

Claudia Mobley, 70, talks about her late daughter, Christina Powell, during an interview at her home Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. Powell, 39, went missing July 5 after she left her mother’s home late for work. Her body was found inside her vehicle July 23 at the Huebner Oaks Center.

Claudia Mobley, 70 years old, speaks about her daughter Christina Powell in an interview at her house Monday, August 1, 2022. Powell, 39, went missing July 5 after she left her mother’s home late for work. Her body was found in her vehicle July 23 at Huebner Oaks Center.

Jerry Lara, San Antonio Express-News / Staff photographer

Chevy and Oliver the mutts bark impatiently, while Mobley glances out from her seat.

Her daughter and grandson adopted the dogs from Animal Care Services shelter recently. Ryan wanted one dog and Powell wanted the second.

“I’m not a dog person, so it’s been kind of a learning experience,”Mobley said.

Powell shared a passion for gardening with her mother. Her garden is filled with the succulents, orchids, and other plants she grew. Powell was busy stocking up in her bedroom on household items in hopes of one day moving into her own house.

Ryan was so loved by Mobley and her daughter that they joked about it. “joint custody”If she ever did locate a place of her very own, she will be thankful to him.

The news of Powell’s disappearance resonated both locally and nationally. Mobley continues receiving calls from so many news outlets, that she has stopped answering her phones.

About a week before Powell’s body was found, a security guard noticed a black SUV parked at the shopping center. The SUV was still there when the same guard noticed it July 23. He approached the vehicle and noticed a foul odor. Then, he looked inside to see a body in front of him. He called police.

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As officers swarmed the scene, Mobley received pictures from supporters showing the black SUV surrounded by police vehicles and the SUV’s license plate. One person who sent her an image said that it took three days for police to notify a relative in a similar situation, so they didn’t want her to experience the agony of a wait.

She called the missing persons team and a detective confirmed that they had found a vehicle. They informed her the next morning in person that the body was Powell’s. An ID found in her purse had been used by police to tentatively identify her.

Mobley was told by police that they had security camera footage that showed the SUV driving into a space shortly after 11 a.m. on July 5, the day Powell disappeared. The vehicle is not seen being moved.

The car was close to an ATM. You could see a Ross Dress For Less shop with its large, blue letters in the distance. Mobley was told that her daughter was lying on her back, slumped, by police.

“If you just walked by the car, you probably wouldn’t see her sitting there,”Mobley said.

The shopping center is located in the opposite direction to the law office where Powell worked. Mobley doesn’t know of any special connection her daughter had to the center, or what business she would’ve had there that day.

As of Wednesday, the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office had yet to identify Powell’s cause or manner of death. It could take three to six months for the findings to be made.

Mobley was assured by investigators that there was no evidence of foul play or that her daughter had committed suicide.

One possibility is Powell may have died from hyperthermia while succumbing the heat.

‘Not sure what’s next’

Her first job as paralegal was with the bustling Thomas J. Henry legal firm. She had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She completed UTSA’s paralegal certificate program about two years ago.

“When she was little, we used to say she was going to be a lawyer because she could argue about anything — and make it appear as though she was right,”Mobley said.

Mobley remembers how excited Powell was when Powell started her career.

Claudia Mobley, 70, talks about her late daughter, Christina Powell, during an interview at her home Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. Powell, 39, went missing July 5 after she left her mother’s home late for work. Her body was found inside her vehicle July 23 at the Huebner Oaks Center.

Claudia Mobley, 70 years old, speaks about her daughter Christina Powell in an interview at her house Monday, August 1, 2022. Powell, 39, went missing July 5 after she left her mother’s home late for work. Her body was found in her vehicle July 23 at Huebner Oaks Center.

Jerry Lara, San Antonio Express-News / Staff photographer

Powell was the youngest of three siblings. She had a brother and sister. Home was close to the Medical Center for Powell. She attended Pat Neff Middle School, and graduated from Marshall High School.

Mobley explained that her family moved from Nashville to San Antonio over 30 years ago, when her husband got a job at TexasHealth Science Center.

A family friend described Powell as having a bubbly personality. Her mother described her as charming, but also private.

“Several men have told me that she was the love of his life,”Mobley said.

Now, Mobley is waiting for her daughter’s ashes and will memorialize her in a small gathering at some point.

Her thoughts turned to Ryan and what’s next for him.

“This is all new territory for me. I’m not sure what’s next,”She spoke. “We’re just trying to get through every day as it comes.”

[email protected] | Twitter: @JBfromSA

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