Body believed to be missing Missouri girl found in home of elementary school coach: police
A body believed to belong to missing 10-year-old Hailey Owens was recovered in the Springfield home of elementary school coach and teacher's aide, Craig Wood, police said Wednesday. The child was walking along a street Tuesday evening when witnesses say a man driving a pickup truck grabbed her and took off.
By Nina Golgowski / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 3:48 PM
A body believed to be of missing 10-year-old Hailey Owens, pictured, was recovered in a Springfield home belonging to an elementary school coach, police said Wednesday.
Police believe they've found the body of a 10-year-old Missouri girl who was snatched outside her home in broad daylight and say an elementary school coach has been arrested with her murder.
Just hours after horrified neighbors reported seeing Hailey Owens swept up by a man in a prowling pickup truck Tuesday evening, Springfield police say they've found the body of a little girl in the home of 45-year-old Craig Wood.
"We are now able to confirm that we have discovered a young female body pursuant to a search warrant at 1538 E. Stanford," police said Wednesday. "While she has not been positively identified, we have a high degree of confidence that it is Hailey Owens."
The heartbreaking discovery around 2:40 a.m. followed at least one witness's frantic 911 call to police, reporting her abduction as she was walking down a neighborhood street at 4:48 p.m.
Craig Michael Wood was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the abduction of the child that was witnessed by neighbors who chased after his vehicle and called police.
"I can't believe he didn't see us sitting in our garage. It was right here. I could see him plain as day, I could see her plain as day," Carlos Edwards told News-Leader.com.
"He opened his door, he said come here for a minute. And as soon as she got within arm's reach he grabbed her up and threw her over him into the passenger's seat and he took off," Edwards said while visibly distraught.
As Edwards chased after the pickup truck he said his wife called 911, providing authorities with the vehicle's license plate number and description of the man.
A body believed to be that of Hailey Owens was found early Wednesday morning at the home owned by Wood, pictured. Official confirmation is pending an autopsy.
At 7 p.m. a multistate Amber alert was issued for Hailey's abduction. By 8:30 p.m., the vehicle and suspect were found parked outside the E. Stanford St. home. Missing from the vehicle was Hailey.
Wood, who has been employed as a coach and teacher's aide at Pleasant View K-8 School in Springfield since August 1998, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.
The Springfield school district announced his suspension Wednesday, pending the police investigation.
Carlos Edwards said he was sitting in his garage with his wife when he saw Wood pull up to the girl in his pickup truck and grab her. He called police and provided authorities with the license plate number.
"We are fully cooperating with law enforcement officials as their investigation continues," Superintendent Norm Ridder said in a release. "Because this is an ongoing investigation, I will not be making any further comments about the situation at this time."
Hailey was a student at Westport Elementary School this year, after attending Bowerman Elementary School the year before, according to the school district.
Police Chief Paul Williams said they don't believe Wood, who had little criminal history outside of a 1990 arrest for a controlled substance, knew Hailey.
Williams said that Wood has not been speaking to investigators since his arrest.
Wood's father, Jim Wood of Ash Grove, Mo, told the Kansas City Star that he spoke with his son on Tuesday night, but wouldn't say whether they discussed his arrest.
"The only thing I can tell you is that Craig is my son," Wood told the paper. "I can tell you it is just a tragedy. We're stunned, for everybody who knows him."