In Outdoor Canada magazine’s Winter 2010 issue, we ran an exclusive investigative piece by Charles Wilkins entitled “Another Fine Day Afield.” The 5,000-word article was about the controversial shooting death of American Mark Harshbarger during a 2006 hunting trip to Newfoundland. The Meshoppen, Pennsylvania, man was shot by his wife, Mary Beth Harshbarger, who claims she thought he was a black bear. At the time, our story garnered a lot of attention in Pennsylvania, including a spot on NBC affiliate WBRE Eyewitness News.
Early last year, Harshbarger was extradited to Newfoundland where she stood trial for criminal negligence causing death. After two weeks of hearings in September, the presiding judge found her not guilty — this when many believe she is actually guilty of first-degree murder. That’s certainly the viewpoint of Mark Harshbarger’s family, as outlined in the Outdoor Canada feature, which precipitated a Fifth Estate episode that aired on CBC shortly after the trial ended (click here to see the episode).
Now, months later, the mainstream media in the U.S. is again picking up the story: on Friday, NBC Dateline presents “As Darkness Fell,” its examination of Mark Harshbarger’s suspicious shooting death (click here for a preview). Clearly, the notion that there’s more here than meets the eye is gathering steam. Does it mean the case will be reopened? Time will tell.
At any rate, I’m proud that Outdoor Canada first broke this story, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Charles Wilkins picks up a National Magazine Award nomination when they’re announced May 2. He certainly deserves it for his months of dogged investigative work, both in Pennsylvania and Newfoundland, as well as for his great writing.