Books

Crawdads author wanted for questioning in Zambia

Where the Crawdads Sing has been a bestseller twice over, all thanks to an adaptation of the novel, and Taylor Swift’s involvement in the soundtrack. But now the author is making headlines for a different reason.

Delia Owens is making the news headlines again, not so much for her highly anticipated book-to-film adaptation of her best-selling novel, but because she is wanted for questioning in Zambia as a potential witness/co-conspirator in a 27-year-old murder case. The inquest came days before the release of ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is scheduled for worldwide release. 

Owens and her then-husband, Mark have been called in for questions over a decades-long in what now has been revealed to be a murder case, and not the ‘poaching death’ that it was first thought to be. At the time in question, the Owens were living in Zambia as animal conservationists, trying to save elephants from poachers and black marketeering.

Delia and Mark Owens. Credit: William Campbell/Getty

What is believed to have been captured on film in the 1980’s documentary by the ABC, titled “Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story” is not so much about good vs evil in the form of conservationists vs poachers, but evidence, as it turns out, of a highly organised military-style raid against suspected poaching camps; led by Mark Owens.

Atlantic journalist Jeffery Goldberg, has led an in-depth investigation into the documentary and subsequent inquiry, and has dubbed it nothing short of a ‘snuff film’. An article via the Atlantic describes how the documentary shows “original footage of an alleged poacher, executed while lying collapsed on the ground after having already been shot. The victim is not identified by the story’s narrator, the journalist Meredith Vieira. Nor is the identity of the person or persons who fired the fatal shots off-camera disclosed.”

Goldberg received a videotape copy several years after the documentary aired, from conservationists who were very interested in African wildlife protection, and equally interested in telling a larger story, who believe that the on-air ‘execution’ of the so-called poacher spoke to a much bigger story, one that they felt needed to be told.

Zambia officials are now seeking to speak with Delia, and Mark Owens – who has yet to be located – as well as the couple’s son Chris, who was allegedly in charge of training recruits,  not only as possible witnesses to the death caught on film but for their involvement in the goings on at the time.