Drunk felon allegedly shoots woman in head in hunting accident

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A Wapello County woman was shot in the head after a hunting incident went wrong.

According to the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office, they received a call on the evening of January 4 of a woman who had received a gunshot wound to the back of her head.

Deputies say they discovered that 73-year-old Jane Wright had suffered a gunshot wound to the back of her head while in her kitchen cleaning her stovetop. Wright told deputies she heard a loud noise and felt pain to the back of her head when she discovered she was bleeding heavily and immediately drove herself to the hospital. Doctors were later able to remove the bullet from the back of her head.

After further investigation, Wapello County deputies say they arrested 34-year-old Lee Joseph Ryals, who had been staying in a camper at 8716 100th Ave. Deputies say Ryals fired a gun at a deer from the front deck of the residence. The round missed the deer, traveled across a field and across 100th Avenue before striking Wright in the head.

The Wapello County Sheriff’s Office charged Ryals with Possessing a Firearm as a Felon and Reckless Use of a Firearm; both charges are Class D felonies. The Wapello County Sheriff’s Office say they referred the illegal hunting incident to DNR conservation officers.

On January 5, DNR Conservation Officers conducted an investigation into the incident that occurred the previous evening.  Conservation officers learned that Ryals was allegedly intoxicated when he shot at the deer, which was determined to be fired from a 30-30 rifle. Conservation officers also discovered that the round that struck Wright traveled 123.5 yards before it entered her home through a living room window, traveling the length of the house before striking her in the back of the head. 

DNR Conservation Officers subsequently say they charged Ryals with hunting without a hunting license, shooting at a deer after legal hunting hours, attempting to take a deer illegally, and possession of a prohibited rifle while hunting deer.

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