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'Where the Crawdads Sing' author wanted for questioning in Zambia fatal shooting, Atlantic reports

Delia Owens, her ex-husband, Mark, and his son, Christopher, are being sought in connection with the fatal shooting of a suspected poacher nearly three decades ago, Zambian officials said.

The author of the wildly popular book "Where the Crawdads Sing" is wanted for questioning in connection with a decades-old alleged murder that was caught on camera in Zambia in the mid-1990s, The Atlantic reported this week.

Delia Owens, her ex-husband, Mark, and his son, Christopher, are all being sought in connection with the fatal shooting of a suspected poacher nearly three decades ago, Zambian officials told Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, who has been following the sordid saga since 2010.

Goldberg wrote that Zambian officials are none too happy about but slightly amused by Owens’ literary success. “Where the Crawdads Sing,” published in 2018, has sold 12 million copies, and a film adaptation, produced by Reese Witherspoon, enjoyed a star-studded premiere in New York City on Monday.

"There is no statute of limitations on murder in Zambia," the country’s director of public prosecutions, Lillian Shawa-Siyuni, told Goldberg last month. "They are all wanted for questioning in this case, including Delia Owens." NBC News has asked Zambia's embassy in Washington for comment.

The alleged murder of the suspected poacher was caught on camera and included in a 1996 ABC documentary called “Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story," which detailed the couple's wildlife conservation efforts. NBC News has not reviewed the video.

Image: Delia Owens
Delia Owens speaks during the "Where the Crawdads Sing" Q&A panel at the Bentonville Film Festival on June 26, 2022 in Bentonville, Ark.Justin Ford / Getty Images file

Goldberg notes that neither the victim nor the shooter, who fired the deadly shot after the alleged poacher had already been wounded, are identified in the documentary.

The Owenses came back to the U.S. shortly after the documentary aired.

ABC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Delia Owens told Goldberg in 2010 that her family had nothing to do with the killing.

“We don’t know anything about it,” she said. “The only thing Mark ever did was throw firecrackers out of his plane, but just to scare poachers, not to hurt anyone.”

Christopher and Mark Owens' lawyers have denied they were involved in the death, Goldberg reported. Delia Owens did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, and a previous lawyer for the family does not represent them anymore, the lawyer said. Mark and Christopher Owens could not immediately be reached for comment.

Delia Owens, along with Mark, has also written "Cry of the Kalahari," "Eye of the Elephant" and "Secrets of the Savanna," documenting their time in Africa.

Goldberg noted that “Where the Crawdads Sing,” set in North Carolina marshlands, bears loose similarities to the allegations against Owens.

The novel’s young protagonist, Kya, an outcast, is accused of murdering the town’s celebrated former star quarterback.

"I was surprised that its themes so obviously echoed aspects of Delia Owens’s life in Zambia," Goldberg writes. "What was noteworthy to me ... were the deliberate callbacks to Delia’s Zambia experience."