Missouri man charged in death of 10-year-old Hailey Owens

CNN
Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 10:03am

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."

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