Springfield police say they found a body during the night that likely belonged to abducted girl Hailey Owens. They also have a suspect in custody.
Police worked "multiple" crime scenes all night at 1538 E. Stanford St. and other places as they investigated the kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Hailey. She was taken from the 3200 block of West Lombard Street as she walked from a friend's home to her home two blocks away late Tuesday afternoon. The family lives in the 3300 block of West Page Street.
At mid-morning Wednesday, police confirmed another crime scene related to this case is at Dutch Maid Laundry, 526 S. National Ave., near Elm Street. That's a laundromat. FBI agents were looking through the washers and dryers there. They were there from about 3 a.m. until about 10:30 a.m., when the business reopened.
At a news conference at 11 a.m., Police Chief Paul Williams confirmed they found a body that likely is Hailey's body. Family told reporters that they were told of her likely death during the night.
"All I can say right now is I miss her and I love her," said her father, Marcus Owens, in a telephone interview late Wednesday morning.
Hailey's father and mother, Stacey Owens, are divorced.
Early Wednesday morning, police parked a mobile Crime Scene vehicle at the home on Stanford. FBI agents were also at the scene.
At a news conference at 6:30 a.m., police wouldn't confirm they'd found a body. Williams said that was necessary because crime scene investigators wanted to make sure the body might be that of a girl that could have been Hailey.
Police arrested Craig Michael Wood on suspicion of first-degree murder. They tracked down his home from the license plate on his pickup, which was noticed by witnesses at the scene of abduction. Police located Wood about 8:30 p.m. in his vehicle in his driveway at 1538 E. Stanford, where he lives and which he co-owns. He was booked into the Greene County jail at 11:30 p.m.
A search for Hailey started late Tuesday night in the area around Bennett Street at National Avenue, near Phelps Grove Park, the Springfield Art Museum and Mexican Villa restaurant. About 35 police officers were involved in the search, which resulted in the discovery of the body.
Williams said Wood would not talk to detectives during the night, so they have no information on a motive or why Wood kidnapped Hailey.
Wood is an in-school suspension teacher at Pleasant View Middle School. He was a substitute teacher from August 1998 until 2006; he's been a full time in-school suspension teacher since then, as well as serving as a football coach at Pleasant View.
Statement from Springfield School District Superintendent Norm Ridder on Wednesday morning:
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.
The suspect in this case, Craig Michael Wood, was arrested by Springfield Police Department. Wood has been employed by SPS since Aug. 18, 1998. He works as a paraprofessional and athletic coach at Pleasant View K-8 School. His employment has been suspended until this matter is resolved.
Hailey is a student at Westport Elementary School and last year she attended Bowerman Elementary School.
I offer my support to Hailey's family and to our SPS community. 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.
We are fully cooperating with law enforcement officials as their investigation continues. Because this is an ongoing investigation, I will not be making any further comments about the situation at this time.
Witnesses say the abductor drove Hailey away in a gold Ford Ranger pickup. Police said Tuesday evening that they were looking for a man with gray hair and an unshaven face who is in his 40s. Wood is 45. A light gold or silver Ranger was in the driveway at the home on Stanford on Wednesday morning before it was towed away about 9 a.m. It has the license plate publicized by police on Tuesday night. The home is surrounded by Crime Scene tape.
The Amber Alert for Hailey's disappearance went out about 7 p.m. Tuesday, two hours after Hailey was abducted. Williams said those two hours were how long it took police to confirm all the information about the abduction and get the information to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which administers Missouri's official Amber Alert web site.
Wood was arrested in his driveway about 8:30 p.m. He was booked into the county jail around 11:30 p.m. Police obtained a search warrant from a judge for Wood's home about 2:15 a.m. They executed the search warrant about 8:30 a.m. They confirmed they had a body that likely was a girl around 10:30 a.m.
Friends and family members have set up an account at Empire Bank in the Springfield area for people to make donations to help Hailey's family with funeral expenses. Donations can be made to that account at any branch of Empire Bank.
A candlelight march in her honor is scheduled for Saturday night at 8 on Commercial Street.
Wood attended school in Marshfield, and graduated from high school in 1986. His class voted him "Most Outspoken." He played football while he was in high school.