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Hunter Suspected Of Killing Two Men Found Dead In Lake; Witness Says He’d Asked To Join Their Group Before Opening Fire

David Vowell had approached three men hunting in a duck blind and asked if he could join them. They agreed, but Vowell began shooting for no clear reason, a prosecutor said.

By Jill Sederstrom
Duck Hunter Suspected Of Killing Two Is Found Dead

A 70-year-old duck hunter wanted in connection with a double homicide has been found dead in the same lake where he was suspected of killing two men.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the body of David Vowell was recovered from the waters of Reelfoot Lake around 3 p.m. Saturday, according to a statement. The body was discovered “near the area of the incident,” authorities said.

The cause of the death has not been determined. A spokesperson for the TBI told Oxygen.com on Monday that an autopsy is being performed to learn more about how Vowell died.

Tommy Thomas, the district attorney for Obion County, told Oxygen.com that the body did not appear to have any visible gunshot wounds.

The 70-year-old had been facing murder charges for the death of 26-year-old Chance Black and 25-year-old Zachery Grooms, after both men were found dead at the lake on Jan. 25.

Thomas said that a third man, identified as Jeff Crabtree, had been in the same duck blind with Black and Grooms and witnessed the shooting.

“Everything that we have found in the investigation has been consistent with the story as related to us by the surviving man, Mr. Crabtree,” Thomas said.

Thomas said Crabtree told authorities that the three men had been hunting in a large duck blind when Vowell approached the group and asked to hunt with him.

“They said okay, and the next thing we know there are gunshots,” Thomas said, adding that there seemed to be “no clear motive” in the case.

Thomas said Vowell shot Grooms first, but his shotgun jammed. The gun was later recovered at the blind and the TBI found a “shell was jammed in there,” Thomas said.

Crabtree told authorities that he had knocked Vowell from the platform causing the 70-year-old to fall into a boat, where another shotgun had been located. He shot Black with the second gun, Thomas said.

Crabtree had tried to get the two men help, “but it was too late,” according to Thomas.   

Vowell fled from the scene on foot and was discovered several days later floating in the water in what is known as a “ditch” or low point in the lake.

In the days after the deadly shooting, TBI agents, deputies with the Obion County Sheriff’s Office and others searched the area by land, water and air for any sign of Vowell, after finding his vehicle and boat at the lake.

Black, who was the son of the chief deputy of the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department, had been a manager at the sporting goods store, Final Flight Outfitters in Union City, Tennessee.

“What has taken place is hard to process,” the store said in a statement obtained by WJHL. “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.”

Jackson Seales told the news outlet that he had purchased a gun from Black over the summer and called him a “good all around guy.”

“He was just great. Never met a stranger, always had a smile on him,” Seales said.

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