Missouri man charged in murder of missing girl

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A southwestern Missouri man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 10-year-old Hailey Owens.

Craig Michael Wood, 45, of Springfield, was also charged with armed criminal action and child kidnapping, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson told reporters Wednesday.

He praised the community’s response to the case.

“It is a tragedy that it was not quick enough to save Hailey,” Patterson said.

Wood is being held without bond.

Hailey’s body was found earlier at a home where Wood’s been living, police said. She was allegedly abducted Tuesday afternoon.

An Amber Alert was issued after at least one witness told police that a man pulled Hailey, of Springfield, into a gold Ford Ranger, CNN affiliate KMBC reported. She had been walking to a friend’s house, KMBC reported, citing her relatives.

Following an unspecified lead, police went to Wood’s home on Tuesday night and, after he drove up to the residence, took him in for questioning. Investigators found the body in a search of the home overnight, and Wood was arrested on a preliminary murder charge.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Hailey knew Wood.

Since 1998, Wood has been employed by Springfield Public Schools, working as a paraprofessional and athletic coach at Pleasant View K-8 School, according to a statement from the schools. He has since been suspended.

Hailey was a student at Westport Elementary School. She attended Bowerman Elementary School last year.

“Last night we learned the terrible news that one of our students had been abducted near her home. This morning, our sadness is compounded by the recent developments in the case of Hailey Owens’ abduction,” said Superintendent Norm Ridder.

He added: “Students and staff at three of our schools are coping with this situation. To support these school communities directly impacted by this tragedy, I have assigned additional counseling staff and school police officers to be on hand until further notice.”
TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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8 comments

  • Lisa

    Who cares if she knew him or not,and what if she did does that matter,he murdered this poor little child,this has death penatly written all over it,and i hope this scum rots in hell!!!!

  • Lynn

    My heart goes out to the family and friends of this precious little girl.The Biblr promises soon all such acts of violence with be gone forever-Psalms 37.10,11.

  • Mzdimplezz

    In times like these, the parents need to be charged with neglect or whoever gave this child permission to walk by herself to a friends house. It doesn't matter if crime doesn't happen in your neighborhood, at any giving moment crime can lurk into your neighborhood at the blink of an eye. I'm sorry this little girl had her precious life taken away. My heart hurts for her and her only.

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