SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A preliminary hearing date is now set for Craig Michael Wood, the middle-school football coach accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old girl in Springfield, Mo.
A judge last week scheduled Wood’s preliminary hearing for 9 a.m. April 2 at the Greene County Courthouse. Wood remains jailed without bond. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine if there is enough evidence for a case to go to trial in the death of fourth-grader Hailey Owens.
Wood, 45, was charged in Feb. with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping.
According to police, the body of Owens was found inside the home of Wood, who was a coach and teacher’s aide at Pleasant View K-8 School.
Authorities say Owens’ body was stuffed inside two garbage bags in a basement. According to court documents, the garbage bags were found inside the bottom of two totes stacked on top of each other.
Authorities determined Owens appeared to have a single gunshot wound to the head and a spent .22-caliber casing was found in the basement. There were also apparent ligature marks on her arms.
According to the probable cause statement, a woman was in her garage when she saw Wood’s Ford Ranger pull up to Owens and ask her for directions. The witness said Hailey tried to walk away from the vehicle, but Wood opened the door of his truck and said “Hey, come here for a minute,” extending his hand and motioning for her to come over.
The witness says Wood lunged out of the vehicle and grabbed Owens with his left hand and threw her into the truck “like a rag doll.” He then drove away from the scene at a high rate of speed. According to court documents, it’s believed Owens was walking home from a friend’s house.
“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.
Authorities say Wood pulled later pulled in a truck as officers were waiting for him at his home in the 1500 block of E. Stanford St.
The officers approached Wood as he got out of the truck, and noticed he had a roll of duct tape in his hand. When he saw the officers, he threw the duct tape into the bed of the truck.
Wood was taken into police custody and questioned by investigators. According to the charging documents, he changed his story about where he was during the kidnapping several times during questioning.
According to the charging documents, Springfield officers and the FBI later executed a search warrant at his home early Wednesday morning after smelling a strong stench of bleach and finding a wet floor in the basement.
The charging documents say crime scene technicians responded to the scene and found Owens’ body.
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.