Hailey Owens was found in the home of murder suspect Craig Wood on Wednesday. The 10-year-old girl from Springfield, Missouri was allegedly stashed in a plastic tote inside the man’s home. Wood, 45, was formally charged Wednesday night with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping, according to court documents.
Hailey Owens’ disappearance went out as an Amber Alert on Tuesday evening. The alert was issued across state lines after multiple witnesses reported seeing the girl snatched off the street in broad daylight. Playing near her home, Hailey was on her phone and wandering around as little girls do. Suddenly, a man in a gold 2008 Ford Ranger stopped to ask her for directions.
According to witnesses Carlos and Michelle Edwards, Hailey turned to walk away from the stranger. That’s when the man, allegedly Craig Wood, jumped out of the truck grabbed the girl and threw her in “like a rag doll.” He sped off, but not before Michelle Edwards was able to get his license plate number. Another neighbor, Ricky Riggins, was nearby when the incident occurred as well. He heard screaming and shouting in the street. When he looked, he saw the Edwards trying to stop Wood from taking Hailey.
Riggins says he then jumped into his vehicle and attempted to chase down the tan Ford Ranger. “I got in my car and tried to chase him down but I couldn’t keep up with him,” Riggins told local NBC News affiliate 2News. Around 7 pm, police issued the Amber Alert and flooded social media with a description of the vehicle, Craig Wood (though they did not yet know his name), and Hailey Owens.
The truck Wood used was tracked to his parents. Jim Wood, Craig’s father, told police that his son typically used the vehicle. Police were able to track him down because he is an employee of Springfield district schools. He is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher’s aide who supervises in-school suspensions at Pleasant View School, which has students K-8. Hailey attended Westport Elementary School.
Police waited for Wood to arrive home and around 8:30 pm, he pulled into his driveway. Officers immediately apprehended him and by 1:30 the next morning they had obtained a warrant to search the home. It was inside that they discovered the horrific remains of a tragic story. Hailey’s body has not been officially confirmed yet, they are waiting for an autopsy, officers are highly confident that it was her stuffed inside of a plastic tote in Wood’s residence.
Also discovered was ligature marks on her and a.22 caliber bullet wound to the back of her head. Casings and ammunition were discovered in Wood’s home as well as a strong smell of bleach. He was seen at a local laundromat shortly before police arrested him.
Brittany Fuqua has a young daughter that used to play with Hailey Owens. Her daughter has been asking her questions about her friend, and Fuqua says she feels inadequate to answer them. “My daughter keeps asking multiple questions and it sucks that she can’t just come outside and play.”
No official statement has been released from state prosecutors, but it is believed that they could be seeking the death penalty for Craig Wood.