Body found after Missouri Amber alert, no ID yet, suspect jailed on suspicion of murder
Springfield, Missouri police have located a body they believe is missing 10-year old Hailey Owens but have not positively identified the remains.
Springfield, Missouri police have booked 45-year-old Craig Michael Wood into jail on suspicion of murder in the disappearance of 10 year old Hailey Owens. They say witnesses helped police identify a suspect vehicle that led them to the suspect.
Officers say they found a body at a Springfield home Tuesday night and believe it may be the girl. They say foul play is involved and are investigating.
According to police, there's no indication that the girl knew the suspect. Witnesses told them they observed a vehicle circling neighborhood, then stopped to have conversation with girl. They say Owens initially ignored him but when she turned to talk to him, he grabbed and drove off.
Springfield police say witnesses tried to stop the abduction, even attempting to chase the vehicle as it drove away. Witnesses told investigators a man in a gold-colored 2008 Ford Ranger drove down the street several times before approaching Hailey and pulling her into his truck around 5 p.m. Tuesday. Witnesses gave police the vehicle's license plate information, which lead them to his home in Springfield.
When they arrived, police say Craig Wood did not try to flee police and agreed to go to police headquarters, but has refused to talk to police. Springfield police say medical examiner's office will determine cause of death. Police will not discuss details of the investigation
Springfield police said the family has been in close contact with them and they waited to release the information that a body was found out of caution.
The Springfield Public School District said Wood was an employee at the school and issued this statement Wednesday morning in response to the news:
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."
The Missouri Highway Patrol issued the Amber Alert after Owens was abducted around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday in Springfield. Police say it took a couple of hours for the Amber Alert to be issued. They they were compiling the details but the process takes time before it can be released to the public.
They originally thought suspect might be en route to Oklahoma and Amber Alerts were issued in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
Springfield police released a statement just before midnight Wednesday saying dozens of officers were still searching for Hailey, but that a man had been taken into custody on kidnapping charges.
Police say Wood is the only suspect in this case.