A recent article by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic sheds light on what happened in the American writer’s life while she was active in Zambia. In 2010, Goldberg wrote a report for The New Yorker, revealing that authorities in Zambia suspected Owen and her husband – along with his son Christopher – of being involved in the murder of a man and other possible criminal activities. While visiting Zambia’s capital Lusaka last month, authorities assured Goldberg that they were still investigating the case.
Owens has spent nearly 20 years in North Luangwa National Park in Zambia. The zoologist did research there with her husband, biologist Mark Owens, and his son, Christopher. Their goal: to protect African elephants from poachers. With the support of the Zambian government, Owens organized a small group of gamekeepers into a force of some sort to combat poaching. Goldberg’s research now indicates that they did not shy away from violence.
Footage from the documentary ABC News: Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story, which aired on Turning Point in March 1996, shows a man lying on the ground being shot dead. Goldberg reported. The victim has not been identified by press reporter Meredith Vieira, and the identity of the person or people who fired the off-camera shots have not been made clear, Goldberg wrote.
According to his research, Delia and Mark Owens are said to have linked the suspected poachers in posts at the time. Many people were killed in anti-poaching operations. Owens’ lawyers deny this.
Zambia government calls for clarification
According to media reports, the Zambian authorities have been searching for the couple for some time. Owens now lives on a cattle ranch in Idaho, USA. In an interview with Goldberg, former Zambian Police Commissioner Graphael Musamba explained that the case from 1996 was never addressed due to a lack of evidence: “The bush is the perfect place to commit murder (…) Animals eat evidence.” The hypothesis, according to the local police department for The Atlantic, is that Mark Owens could have disposed of the body with his helicopter in a nearby lake.
There are now calls again in Zambia for the author to testify in court. The country’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Lillian Shawa Sioni, confirmed to Goldberg, “Delia, Mark and Christopher Owens remain wanted in connection with the murder of the alleged poacher, as well as other possible criminal activities in North Luangwa.”
According to Media Control, Owen’s novel was a bestseller in Germany last year. It tells the fictional story of Kia, a girl who lives alone in the swamps of North Carolina. When a murder occurs in the coastal city, Kia is brought to justice. Owen’s novel is about a murder, and there is little doubt that the boundary between fantasy and reality – between what actually happens and what is made up – are tilted here, as the Süddeutsche Zeitung (“SZ”) wrote.
In an interview three years ago, Owens said of her book, “There are a lot of symbols in this book, and you don’t have to understand it. You can simply read it as a story.” And SZ wrote that this symbolism in particular can now be fatal to the adult author of Age 73 years old.