Suspect In Missouri Amber Alert Booked On Murder Complaint

Tuesday, February 18th 2014, 10:16 pm
By: News 9

The Springfield, Missouri Police Department said they've arrested a 45-year-old man in connection with the abduction of a 10-year-old girl Tuesday afternoon.

KOLR, the CBS affiliate in Springfield, Missouri reports a family friend told them the body of Hailey Owens has been found.

An amber alert was issued on Tuesday for Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma on behalf of the Missouri Highway Patrol for Hailey Owens.

In an 11 a.m. news conference, Springfield Police said they located the suspect, 45-year-old Craig Michael Wood, Tuesday night and arrested him. Booking records at the Greene County Jail indicate he was arrested on a first-degree murder complaint.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said after a search warrant was obtained, the body of a young girl was found inside a Springfield home where Wood was arrested. The body hasn't been positively identified, although investigators have a "high degree of confidence" it is Owens' body.

He did not discuss any further details about the body or a potential manner of death or circumstances surrounding it.

Wood and Owens had no prior relationship known to investigators, Williams said.

According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, 10-year-old Hailey M. Owens was abducted around 4:48 p.m. Tuesday afternoon in Springfield, Missouri.

Witnesses told police Owens was walking near her home when a man pulled up next to her in a truck and spoke to her. The girl at first seemed to ignore the man, then came back to talk to him. He quickly stepped outside of the truck, grabbed her and forced her inside, witnessed said.

One person ran after the truck, and another got into a vehicle and chased it, witnesses said.

Owens was last seen wearing blue jean shorts and purple sandals. She is 5'2", 90 pounds, has brown hair, brown eyes and pierced ears. The suspect is a white male, age 45 to 55, 6'1", 200 pounds and has grey hair. He was believed to be driving a gold, 2008 Ford Ranger Pickup with Missouri tag number 1YF454.

When the Springfield Police Department initially issued the Amber Alert, they believed Owens may have been taken to Oklahoma.

Just before 7 a.m. Wednesday, the Springfield Police Department said the Amber Alert was canceled.

Police said a Ford Ranger pickup and a suspect were located at a home in Springfield. Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said Wednesday morning that evidence at the scene indicated foul play had taken place.

According to Williams, Wood had no prior violent criminal history, but he has drug offenses.

Wood has chosen not to speak to investigators, so Williams said police still don't have a motive.

Springfield R-12 school superintendent Dr. Norm Ridder issued this statement about Wood:

"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."