Local News

Suspicious Death Ruled Homicide

Posted February 23, 2004

— A man found floating in the Eno River Saturday afternoon had been shot twice in the head, according to Durham police investigators.

The victim's car was recovered after it had been set on fire several miles away Sunday morning. Sunday night, police were looking for a man who may have been driving the car.

The body of 23-year-old Sean Owen of Franklinton

was found in the Eno River

at Old Farm Park on Hedgerow Place at 12:42 p.m. Saturday. Owen had been reported missing in Franklin County on Friday.

Owen's car -- a 1998 4-door, burgundy Ford Contour with North Carolina license plate NTW-1188 -- was missing. The car was set on fire around 8:15 a.m. Sunday in the 600 block of Shepherd Street in Durham's West End neighborhood.

"It's not really everyday you wake up and find a murder victim's car in front of your house," said neighbor Jeff Ensminger. "So, in that respect, it makes me nervous because it would have to be someone who knows this is a dead-end street."

After discovering the burned car, Durham police formed a dragnet spanning 16 square blocks in the West End neighborhood. Officers stopped traffic, went door to door, and appealed to the general public through news crews looking for answers.

"We're hoping someone will come forward and provide more information which will lead to the arrest in this case," said Durham police Cpl. David Addison.

Addison said police are looking for Derrick Shuler. He did not call Shuler a suspect, but said police do want to talk to him. His last known address is just a couple miles away from where the car was found.

"The Durham Police Department has received informaton that he (Shuler) was possibly operating the vehicle," Addison said.

Shuler also is wanted in Chapel Hill on three warrants for armed robbery.

On Tuesday, Owen left his home in Franklinton. It was the last time his family saw him alive.

"He stated to the family that he was going to run an errand in Raleigh and pick up a friend named Tony," Addison said.

On Friday, Owen's family reported the 23-year old man missing. The next day, several young teens found his body in the Eno River.

In addition to Shuler, Police also are looking for the "friend named Tony." They say Owen may have met him on the Internet.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call investigator W.L. Early at

(919) 560-4440, ext. 229,

or CrimeStoppers at

(919) 683-1200.

CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases.

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