Best-selling author wanted for questioning in murder


Mark and Delia Owens in the North Luangwa National Park in Zambia. 9/88 (Photo by William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — “Where the Crawdads Sing” hit theaters nationwide on July 15, 2022. The film is based on author Delia Owens’ novel of the same name, and has put her back in the spotlight. Just like the main character, Owens reportedly has the attention of prosecutors looking to solve a decades-old murder.

Owens and her ex-husband Mark did their conservation work in Zambia, and much of it was based on Delia’s love of elephants and hatred of poachers.

However, when an ABC news crew arrived in 1996 to do an hour on the Owens’ efforts for the show “Turning Point”, something unexpected unfolded. The camera started rolling and a suspected poacher was shot dead.

The Owens and Mark’s son from a former marriage were shown quickly leaving the country. It’s been reported that the trio is being sought for questioning by Zambian officials in connection to the murder.

”It was a horrific set of circumstances. We know that this man was shot. He was laying on the ground, and then somebody shot him when he was already incapacitated. It’s horrible,” federal criminal defense attorney Tama Kudman said.

“Zambia does have an extradition treaty with the United States. So they would be able to issue legal process if they have enough evidence, or if anything had happened with this case, but there is no case,” Kudman added.

Some readers and movie goers notice parallels with Kya, the main character of the book and film. Kya is forced to grow up alone on the marsh and embraces nature until she is implicated in a murder.

“If you’re writing the marketing plan for the film, it’s definitely going to interrupt it and can cause you to really rethink things,” media expert Seth Schachner said.

Yet, opening weekend publicity of any nature never hurts.

“There’s similarities, but between both the real life event from 30-40 years ago, and the plot, you know, so in theory, it should help it actually,” Schachner added.

”It sounds to me like the Zambian authorities might be trying to pick up a little bit of publicity of their own as a result of the success of this book and impending movie,” Kudman said.

NewsNation has reached out to ABC, the prosecutors in Zambia and Delia and Mark Owens, but we have yet to hear back.

In the past, Delia and Mark have denied being involved in the shooting.

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