Searchers recover man's body from Black River

David Owen had been missing since Wednesday night (Source: Mark Little)
David Owen had been missing since Wednesday night (Source: Mark Little)

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Poplar Bluff Deputy Chief Jeff Rolland says they have recovered the body of the man they were looking for in the Black River.

Police in Butler County say a missing persons case is not a death investigation.

Police want to know more about what lead up to the death of 41-year-old David Owen of Poplar Bluff.

Owen was last seen swimming in the Black River with friends Wednesday.

Witnesses tell us Owen was in the river when a fight broke out. They got out of the water and when they got back in Owen was gone. Water Patrol crews found Owens body in the water Thursday morning around 10:30.

"He was about a half mile from where he was last seen," said Deputy Chief of Police, Jeff Rolland.

Police say they know alcohol was involved but they do not suspect foul play at this time.

"We know they started drinking around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon," said Rolland.

"Right now we don't suspect foul play. We want to wait on autopsy results and interviews of witnesses before we go any further."

Heartland News did speak with Owen's brother who didn't want to go on camera, but says he believes someone wanted to intentionally harmed David.

An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

That should give authorities more clues.

"There are a lot of rumors and conflicting stories," said Rolland. "We need to investigate all of those and figure out what happened and what didn't."


According to Dave Nelson of the Missouri Water Patrol search crews were on the Black River in town looking for  41-year-old David Owen.

Nelson said the man went missing between 9 and 10 Wednesday night.

A witness at the scene, Mark Little, said his friend David Owen of Poplar Bluff and five other people were drinking and swimming Wednesday night when a woman in the group shouted that she couldn't find her five-year-old.

Little said everyone jumped in the water to find the child when they realized the five-year-old was still on the bank.

According to Little, he saw Owen five feet from the bank, turned around to get out of the water and never saw Owen again.

Crews searched the river until around 4 Thursday morning before taking a break, but were back on the river searching in the morning hours.

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