Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing, wanted for questioning in Zambia murder
In 1996 the married couple, with Mark’s adult son Christopher, were featured in the BBC documentary Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story, which highlights their war against poachers in Zambia. At the time, the Owens family had developed a reputation as ruthless outsiders willing to go above and beyond to stop poachers.
Where does the murder come from?
Bizarrely, the documentary included a scene that depicts, according to Jeffrey Goldberg writing in Atlantic“the filmed murder of a suspected poacher, executed as he lay collapsed on the ground after having already been shot”.
Goldberg has been following the Owens case from the start, and its 2010 story in the new yorker revealed that the couple – along with Mark’s son Christopher – were suspected by Zambian authorities of involvement in the murder. Goldberg spoke to ABC cameraman Chris Everson, who filmed the murder and alleged that Christopher Owens fired the fatal shots.
“It’s a very complicated story; it was a very emotional thing, it was a very bad thing,” Everson said. “It’s something that should never have happened.”
The Zambian National Police have launched an investigation but the body of the executed poacher has never been found. Former Zambian National Police Commissioner Graphael Musamba told the new yorker, “The bush is the perfect place to commit murder. We have this all the time in the Northern Province. Animals eat evidence.
Shortly after the murder, Mark, Delia and Christopher Owens returned home to America.
So why is he back in the news?
Where the Crawdads sing is poised to be one of the biggest films of the year, and it brought a fresh perspective to both Owens and the content of his novel.
Where the Crawdads sing follows the story of Kya, a young woman accused of murder. The parallels between Owens’ alleged real-life experiences and Kya’s persecution on the page have raised eyebrows. Then add the hype that accompanies the release of a feature film produced by Reese Witherspoon, starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and soundtracked by Taylor Swift.
Given that Swift is one of pop music’s most polarizing figures, her involvement in the film and her outspoken admiration for Owens was perfect fodder for online critics.
Could Owens actually face charges?
It’s hard to say, but in Atlantic Goldberg spoke to Zambia’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Lillian Shawa-Siyuni, who confirmed that Mark, Delia and Christopher Owens are still wanted for questioning.
“There is no statute of limitations for murders in Zambia,” Siyuni told Goldberg. “They are all wanted for questioning in this case, including Delia Owens.”
The Owens family deny any allegations that they were involved in the murder. In comments provided to Goldberg for the new yorker investigation, Delia maintained that she “knew nothing” about the murder of a suspected poacher and that her stepson Christopher “was not there”.
Currently, there is no extradition agreement between the United States and Zambia.
Did anyone from the movie make a public comment?
Where the Crawdads sing is distributed by Sony, but the company has yet to comment on the allegations. Time magazine reported that an interview with Owens, Witherspoon and star Daisy Edgar-Jones was canceled after speaking to crawdads = crawfish screenwriter Lucy Alibar and asked about Owens and the controversy.
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