SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KMOX) – Police have charged Craig Michael Wood, 45, in the murder of 10-year-old Hailey Owens, a Springfield, Missouri girl who went missing from her home on Tuesday evening.
Wood has been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping.
Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson held back tears as he announced the charges at a news conference on Wednesday. Patterson, the father of 8 and 11-year-old daughters, called the case tragic and vowed that his department is “committed to seeking justice for Hailey.”
Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said it appears that Wood had been circling Hailey Owens’ neighborhood in his vehicle when he spotted her walking down the street.
Williams said Hailey initially ignored the man in the vehicle, but “…then came back and spoke with the driver, at which time he suddenly jumped out and grabbed her and pulled her into the vehicle.”
Witnesses told investigators the suspect was driving a gold-colored 2008 Ford Ranger. An AMBER Alert was issued Tuesday night in Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Police tracked down the owner of the vehicle who told them Wood was the driver.
Wood was found in that vehicle at his residence. Officers had been watching the home and when Wood arrived, he agreed to go in for questioning.
Police say they recovered a Owens’ body inside Wood’s home.
Patterson thanked neighbors and witnesses as well as all law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation for their quick response, leading to Wood’s arrest just hours after the AMBER Alert was issued.
The Springfield School District said Wood is a coach and paraprofessional at a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Hailey did not attend that school.
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