Woman Shot in Head by Stray Bullet, Felon Arrested

By Ellis Codjoe, January 09, 2019

A Southeast Iowa woman experienced a frightening ordeal in which she was shot in the head by a stray bullet Friday evening.

73-year-old Janet Wright was cleaning in her kitchen when she heard a loud noise that was immediately accompanied by a pain in the back of her head. When put her hand to the back of her head, Wright realized that she was bleeding heavily.

Wright drove herself to Ottumwa Regional Health Center. Doctors later removed a bullet from the back of her head.

The Wapello County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation. They came to the revelation that Lee Ryals, 34, was staying in a camper on 100th Ave. While on the front deck of the residence, Ryals allegedly shot at and missed a deer with a 30-30 rifle. Authorities say Ryals was intoxicated at the time.

According to Conservation Officers from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the round traveled 123.5 yards before it entered Wright’s home through a living room window. The bullet then traveled the length of the house before striking Wright in the back of the head.

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

DNR Officers 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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