10-year-old Hailey Ownes found dead at home in Springfield, Mo
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Springfield Public Schools employee faces murder charges in the death of a 10-year-old Springfield girl who was abducted Tuesday evening.
According to police, the body of 10-year-old Hailey Owens was found inside the home of Craig Michael Wood, who is a coach and teacher's aide at a Springfield Public Schools elementary school.
Wood, 45, is in custody on suspicion of first-degree murder, according to the Green County Sheriff's Office website. The murder booking came just hours after police announced they had arrested Wood in the abduction of Hailey Owens.
Witnesses told investigators a man in a gold-colored 2008 Ford Ranger drove down the 3200 block of W. Lombard St. several times before approaching Hailey just a couple blocks from her home around 5 p.m. Tuesday. Police say she first ignored the man, but then walked up to the vehicle. That’s when Wood allegedly pulled her into his truck.
"Our witnesses said it happened just that quick," Police Chief Paul Williams said.
Neighbor Carlos Edwards told the Springfield News-Leader he ran after the truck as his wife tried to get the license plate number after seeing the abduction. Police say another witness got into a car and tried to pursue Wood’s vehicle, but lost track of it.
Police say witness accounts helped them identify Wood as the suspect. Amber Alerts were issued in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Authorities say Wood pulled up in his truck around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday as officers were waiting for him at his home in the 1500 block of E. Stanford St. Wood was brought into custody for questioning and later arrested.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Woods had borrowed the truck allegedly used in the abduction from someone else.
Police say 30 Springfield officers and the FBI later executed a search warrant at his home. Authorities say that’s when they found a girl's body. Police say they "have a high degree of confidence" the body belongs to Owens, though the identity and cause of death cannot be determined until an autopsy has been performed.
Authorities say more than 100 law enforcement officers from the Springfield Police Department, Missouri Highway Patrol and FBI were involved in the investigation.
Police say they were processing the abduction location, the Dutch Maid Laundromat, in hopes of finding more evidence.
According to police, Wood is not talking to investigators and a motive for the alleged killing is unknown.
On Wednesday, Springfield Public School Superintendent Norm Ridder said Wood has worked as a coach and teacher's aide in the district since Aug. 1998.
“He works as a paraprofessional and athletic coach at Pleasant View K-8 School,” Ridder said in a statement. “His employment has been suspended until this matter is resolved.
According to Ridder, Owens was a student at Westport Elementary School in Springfield. She attended Bowerman Elementary School last year.
Police say they do not believe Owens and Wood knew each other.
Court documents show Wood has a drug arrest on his record, but no violent crime convictions.