More manpower coming in search for Ebony Owens’ remains, as river forecast shows drop in elevation

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:41 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Crews cleared out of the Big Black River near the Hinds and Warren County line around 4 p.m. Tuesday, marking the sixth straight day in which authorities were unable to find Ebony Owens’ remains.

Investigators believe Owens’ husband killed her and dumped her body in the water.

Tuesday, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace told 3 On Your Side that the search has expanded all the way to the Warren and Claiborne County line.

So far, the biggest issue for those going out on boats has been debris in the water.

However, there is some potentially promising news for Owens’ family.

The river forecast shows a significant drop in water elevation to about 11 feet by Thursday.

However, Warren County Sheriff Pace said if the river drops too far, it could also present more challenges.

“If it gets too low, we’re not going to be able to get a boat in. It’s also going to expose more debris and more clutter that’s in the shallow areas. It may make it impossible to get a boat in or navigate one if we do get it in,” he said.

Out on the water, crews have been doing what Pace calls a “surface search.”

“Right now, it’s really just visual. We have a deputy forward with binoculars, another deputy just using plain sight, and an operator. The problem is, again, just moving the debris. We’re checking all of the debris fields that we come up on,” Pace said. “The boats do have Sonar, but the Sonar is not very effective in this environment because there’s so much clutter and debris at the bottom.”

A dive team from Madison was out on Saturday, but conditions were too dangerous for them to actually go into the water.

“That was their decision and rightfully so, I believe. After looking at the current, looking at the drift, looking at the debris in the water, they, for safety reasons, couldn’t go down,” he said.

The sheriff said even if authorities knew specifically where Owens’ body was, it would still be extremely difficult and dangerous for a diver because of all the debris.

Not to mention, the river is about 13 feet deep in some areas and 80 feet deep in others.

“It’s a very challenging environment.”

Even still, Sheriff Pace said he remains hopeful.

“We’re always hopeful. We’re always hopeful for the family’s sake. Although we can’t bring her back, we very much want to be able to bring some closure to the family. It’s just one step in the healing process.”

Thursday morning, Hinds County is bringing about 15 additional people to help search and a drone as well.

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