Where the Crawdads Sing author Delia Owens wanted for questioning in the murder of an alleged big game poacher


Where the Crawdads Sing author Delia Owens (right), and in a still photo with her husband Mark from a 1995 episode of ABC’s Turning Point (left).

Delia Owens’ New York Times bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing has sold over 4.5 million copies and was the top-selling adult fiction or nonfiction title in 2018. The book went on to be the most sold fiction book on Amazon.com in 2019, and it was ranked as the 14th bestselling book of 2021 by Publishers’ Weekly. 

The book captured the attention of actress Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club in September 2018, and Witherspoon bought the rights to make it into a film which starred Daisy Edgar-Jones and Taylor John Smith and featured an end credits song by Taylor Swift. The film version of Where the Crawdads Sing made $17 million in its debut weekend. The book and then the film’s immense popularity soon had people digging into Owens and her involvement in some controversial activities.

Owens is an American author, zoologist, and conservationist with 32 non-consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. With her seemingly overnight popularity, people soon discovered a 1995 episode of the ABC show Turning Point featuring Owens and her husband titled “Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story.” The show chronicled the emotional tale of the Owenses saving elephants from poachers and untrustworthy African officials.

While the audience was expecting another benign wildlife conservationist story, the show shocked viewers when it turned out to be an actual snuff film. The documentary included the filmed murder of an alleged poacher being executed while lying collapsed after already having been shot once. 

Zambian authorities are still uncertain as to who did the actual shooting of the alleged poacher, but they want to question Owens, her husband, and her stepson Christopher. Laura Miller of Slate reports that In researching for his The Atlantic article “Where the Crawdads Sing Author Wanted for Questioning in Murder” writer Jeffrey Goldberg, was told by several sources that ”Christopher Owens – Mark Owen’s son and Owens’ stepson – was the first member of a scouting party to shoot the man,” and then “two other scouts followed suit.”

Fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, including two Olympic Heights English teachers, admit that the controversy surrounding Owens has impacted how they feel about Owens. 

“I had mixed feelings because I felt good for her because she is looking out for the environment, but you shouldn’t be killing people though,” Ms. Laura Gonzalez stated.

Ms. Sarah Cummings added, “When I read [Where the Crawdads Sing] a second time, like often times, it lost a little bit of its luster, so to speak.”

With the resurfacing of the murder and the Owenses refusing to cooperate with Zambian authorities, the whole controversy is beginning to do terrible harm to Owens’ reputation.