Missouri police stated that they discovered the body of Hailey Owens in Craig Wood’s basement during the night and even though she had only been missing less than 12 hours, it was already way too late, the child was dead. The tiny Springfield, Missouri girl, age 10, had been seen last only around a block from her home on Tuesday afternoon, when a stranger pulled up beside her. He was inside a truck and grabbed her suddenly as neighbors stood by, first in shock and then proceeded to chase the truck.
One neighbor was even able to get the license plate of the truck Hailey was taken in. It began an investigation that would end in Wood’s basement. In there, police detectives stated that they discovered two different tote boxes that were stacked on top of one another. Inside the very top one were documents and various types of papers. In the one on the bottom, Hailey’s body was found wrapped in garbage bags.
The little girl had been shot in the back of her head with a single .22 round, stated police. They found the shell casing also in the basement and Hailey had ligature marks on both of her arms, which usually means that the person has been tied up.
Wood was arrested outside of his house around four hours after the little girl went missing. He was a football coach and teacher’s aide at a school but one that was different from the one Hailey went to. Missouri police and Springfield residents all have struggled to understand what his motive was. Wood who might be facing the death penalty is believed to have acted alone in the murder.
Police Chief Paul F. Williams stated that he did not believe at this point that Hailey knew Wood. The suspect was being held in the Greene County jail without any bond as he waited for his first appearance in court on Thursday. He refused to answer any questions but had asked for an attorney.
Hailey’s kidnapping and murder sent chills of apprehension through the community. Wood had been employed for the Springfield school district since 1998. Police stated that he had only a minor criminal history which was to do with drugs. Missouri court records showed one conviction from 1990. But there was nothing even close to something like this, stated the police chief.
Citizens of Springfield were leaving flowers where Hailey lived and also at her school, Westport Elementary. The elementary principal said that students were attempting to cope by writing letters and drawing pictures. The principal was near tears as he spoke about Hailey, and stated that she would help any new students who came to the school and then to her classroom. She was the type that would welcome others with her arms opened and she would make them her friend. That was the type of little girl she was, always caring for other people and really doing things for others what she would want done unto herself. Sadly none of this helped.
Missouri police stated that they discovered the body of Hailey in Craig Wood’s basement during the night and even though she had only been missing less than 12 hours, it was already way too late for her.
By Kimberly Ruble
Ozarks First News