70-Year-Old Tennessee Man Wanted in Killings of 2 Hunters Found Dead in Swamp

David Vowell has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two duck hunters, police said.
David Vowell had been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two duck hunters, authorities said.Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

David Vowell, 70, had been charged with murdering two duck hunters and was considered "armed and dangerous." His body was found over the weekend in a swamp, authorities said.

The body of 70-year-old David Vowell, a murder suspect considered "armed and dangerous," was found over the weekend not far from where two duck hunters were shot to death in rural Tennessee, authorities said.

A massive search had been underway for Vowell in the Reelfoot Lake area of Obion County. He had been charged with first-degree murder in last week's shooting deaths of Chance Black, 26, and Zachary Grooms, 25, according to arrest warrants.

Vowell's body was discovered by searchers on Saturday, in a swampy area of the lake, state officials said. Rising water and bad weather had hampered scouting efforts, authorities said. An autopsy will be conducted to determine a cause of death.

The victims had been hunting from a duck blind near the lake when Vowell arrived by boat, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

A verbal disagreement erupted, District Attorney Tommy Thomas told ABC News.

A third hunter in the duck blind was able to escape, said District Attorney Tommy Thomas. Jeff Crabtree told investigators the trio went hunting about 6 a.m. About three hours later, Powell arrived by boat and asked if he could share the duck blind, Thomas told reporters, WJHL-TV reported.

Crabtree said the group told Powell he could join them, the prosecutor said. As Vowell got out of his boat, he began loading his shotgun, which Crabtree said was odd because hunters don't usually load their weapon until they are in position, the prosecutor related.

The survivor said he heard a shot, and turned to see Grooms had been wounded in the chest, then moments later, Black was shot in the side, Thomas said.

Crabtree wrestled the gun away from Vowell and threw it into the lake, and then knocked Vowell into the water, the prosecutor said. Investigators said there was no known motive for the alleged attack. 

Crabtree ran for help and last saw Vowell standing in waist-high water, the prosecutor said.

Vowell was retired and owned a lumber company, the station reported. Cousin Steve Vowell described him as “one of the most mild-mannered folks you’ll ever meet. “The only time David Vowell would point his gun at another human being is in self-defense,” the cousin told the station. 

Black was the son of Weakly County Chief Deputy Sheriff Mark Black, according to local reports.

Duck hunting guide Jackson Seales told WJHL-TV that Chance Black "was just great. Never met a stranger, always had a smile on him. Always, ‘Hey man, how’s the duck hunting today?’ Just a good all-around guy."

Black was a gun manager at sporting goods store Final Flight Outfitters.

“What has taken place is hard to process. No duck is worth the life of a man. What we do know is that God is our refuge and strength, even in the hardest of times," management said in a statement.