Delia Owens, author of the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing, is wanted in Zambia for questioning over the 1996 murder of an alleged poacher. The Atlantic confirmed in a new report that officials at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Zambian national police wanted to bring Delia, her ex-husband, Mark, and Mark's adult son from his first marriage, Christopher, in for questioning.
Police told the outlet that Delia, Mark and Christopher are possible witnesses, co-conspirators, and accessories to felony crimes in the death of an alleged poacher and other possible crimes in the African region of North Luangwa. The legal drama stems back to a March 1996 ABC News documentary that showed the murder of an alleged poacher, who was killed while lying on the ground. In the documentary, the person who was killed was not identified, nor was the person who shot them off-camera.
In a 2010 New Yorker report, the ABC News cameraman who filmed the killing identified Christopher as the one who fired the fatal shots, and a police detective investigating the killing reportedly concluded that Mark allegedly put the man's body in a cargo net and used his helicopter to drop it into a nearby lagoon, where it was never found. "The bush is the perfect place to commit murder," a former Zambian police commissioner told The Atlantic. "The animals eat the evidence."
The Owens were in Zambia in the 1990s as conservationists, where they worked to save elephants from poachers and corrupt local officials. The Atlantic reports that Mark was in charge of a local militia that patrolled a massive park to get rid of poachers however they saw fit. The outlet also obtained a letter in which Mark allegedly bragged about the death of these poachers through his command.
When interviewed about the killing of the poacher 12 years ago, Delia denied to The New Yorker any involvement. "We don't know anything about it," she said. "The only thing that Mark ever did was throw firecrackers out of his plane, but just to scare poachers, not to hurt anyone." Confronted by the damning letter written by Mark, Delia responded, "Why don't you understand that we're good people? We were just trying to help."
Even more odd is how the details of the 1996 murder are similar to the murder in Delia's 2018 novel, in which main character Kya Clark is accused of murder in the isolated North Carolina swamp lands. Where the Crawdads Sing has been adapted for the big screen and is produced by Reese Witherspoon. The film hits theaters Friday.