Audio about conspiracy to commit murder leads to arrest of Mississippi man in 2018 killing, another suspect identified.

Published 7:02 am Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Natchez Police Department has one suspect in custody and has identified another suspect in the 2018 murder of Don Owens, 29.

Owens was killed by gunfire at approximately 9 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2018, in the area of Inez Street, West Stiers Lane and Daisy Street in Natchez.

His grieving mother, Rebecca Owens, said she has spent the past two years writing letters and visiting with government authorities, newspapers, television stations and law enforcement seeking justice for her son.

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As of Friday, law enforcement is one step closer to bringing justice to the Owens family with the arrest of Damien Hayes on a conspiracy charge Thursday. A warrant has also been issued for DiQuan Seals in connection to the 2018 shooting.

“December 17, 2018, changed my life,” Rebecca Owens said. “… No parent needs to endure the death of their child. He was a son, a brother, a father and he is missed dearly. He is loved dearly. I was fighting to the end … because this needs to be stopped — this senseless killing. We have people out there still murdering and I thank God for bringing justice to me and my family.”

Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry announced this break in the cold case during a Friday morning press conference.

Investigators were able to obtain audio from phone messages from the two men having a conversation and giving specific details about a conspiracy to murder Don Owens. Based on this new evidence, Hayes has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and Seals is also wanted for conspiracy to commit murder.

Daughtry said Friday morning that he has been in touch with Seals’s attorney and his arrest is forthcoming.

“His attorney advised that he would have him here but if he doesn’t we have also been in touch with the U.S. Marshals Service. … They have his information and are ready to start looking for him,” Daughtry said.

“God prepared me for this,” Rebecca Owens said of the break in the case. She said when she got the call, her body was shaking because she “knew what was coming.” When authorities confirmed that an arrest had been made, she said stress that she had held onto for more than two years had finally been lifted from her shoulders.

Daughtry thanked the officers from Natchez and other agencies who worked on this case and others that are still being investigated. Commander Scott Frye and detectives of the Natchez Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division have been hard at work on this case for more than two years, he said.

“It has been over two years but with the use of technology and assistance from other agencies we’ve been able to get enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant for Damien Hayes and DiQuan Seals,” Daughtry said.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said the arrest sends a message of hope to families who are still seeking justice and a warning to those who pose a threat to the community.

“We’ve sent a message that says you will not get away with murder in the city of Natchez, Mississippi, and we will do whatever it takes and will go to every length we have to in order to bring you to justice and bring anyone to justice who thinks they can bring havoc to our community and bring harm to our citizens and our families,” Gibson said. “We also send a message of love and support to those families who are grieving today. We have so many. … We are very grateful that today we have made a step forward to bringing closure to the Owens family.”