February 01, 2021
The suspect wanted in twin homicides last week at Reelfoot Lake was found dead over the weekend in the stained waters of the famous 15,000-acre waterfowl rich natural lake in northwestern Tennessee.
Authorities say that the body of David Vowell, a 70-year old man from Martin, Tenn., was discovered on Saturday afternoon as the manhunt continued for the alleged killer in the slayings of 26-year old Chance Black and 26-year old Zachery Grooms, both from Greenfield, Tenn.
The pair died after a witness, Jefferey Crabtree, told investigators that Vowell allegedly approached the blind in the Walnut Log area of the lake and opened fire. The details from Crabtree’s account were provided to northwestern Tennessee’s Thunderbolt Radio by the area’s 27th Judicial District Attorney General Tommy Thomas.
Thomas indicated last week that Crabtree’s statement alleged that Vowell approached a hunting blind at mid-morning on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 and asked Black, Grooms, and Crabtree if he could hunt out of the blind.
According to the District Attorney General, Crabtree told investigators that Vowell then loaded his shotgun while sitting in his boat and proceeded to shoot the two deceased victims. Crabtree was reportedly able to knock the shooter in the head, apparently wrestle the gun away and throw it into the lake, and then seek help for the two shooting victims.
While Vowell had not been seen since the incident occurred, he had been considered armed and dangerous by Tennessee law enforcement authorities. But as time went on and Vowell’s truck and boat were discovered, speculation built in various corners that the suspect may have died in the lake from either drowning, exposure, or both.
The search for Vowell after the slayings had been suspended for a brief time as chilly weather and flood waters made searching the area difficult for Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents and others assisting in the ongoing effort.
The manhunt concluded over the weekend with the TBI announcement via Twitter that Vowell had been discovered deceased in the extremely murky waters of the Reelfoot Lake region.
"BREAKING UPDATE: The body of David Vowell has been recovered in the waters of Reelfoot Lake," said the TBI Tweet on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. "He was located around 3 p.m., today, near the area of the incident. His identity has been confirmed and an autoposy will be performed."
TBI investigators had issued a series of photos and a 45-second video in a tweet a day earlier that showed the difficulty in searching for Vowell in the heavily stained floodwaters that backed deep into local forestland.
It’s unclear at this point whether the crime’s alleged perpetrator was discovered near the blind where the shootings took place or somewhere else in the region swamped by floodwaters.
While authorities have yet to issue any official statement as to a possible motive in the double homicides, social media and hunting forums had many speculating late last week that the incident may have stemmed from some sort of dispute over the blind itself or possibly on shooting at so-called “swing ducks” that may have been working another blind. So far, if any of those details are known by investigators, they have yet to publicly comment on them.
While the case remains far from closed as authorities continue to try and piece together what happened on that deadly Monday morning in a Tennessee duck blind, there is closure of some sorts now for the families of the victims and others in the area that may have been alarmed about the presence of an armed and dangerous fugitive on the loose.
Stay tuned to wildfowlmag.com for further updates on this tragic story as it continues to unfold.