Springfield police: Body of abducted girl likely found; kidnapping suspect not talking

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Police this morning said there's a high likelihood they found the body of a 10-year-old girl abducted last night in Springfield.

Police Chief Paul Williams at about 11 a.m. said authorities found the body and testing still needs to be done, but he believes Hailey Owens was found at the home of a man suspected in her abduction. Police say that man has no known connection to Owens.

Springfield police arrested Craig Michael Wood about 8 p.m. on Stanford Street, in the truck believed to have been used in the abduction of Owens, Chief Williams said this morning.

Online documents related to Wood's arrest indicate he is suspected of first-degree murder.

Police say Wood, so far, has refused to speak about the case.

Police continue to process the scene of the Stanford Street home where Wood, an employee of the Springfield Public School District, was arrested. Police and investigators from the FBI also searched the Dutch Maid Laundry, near Elm Street and National Avenue, in connection with the case.

Officers were seen at the laundry this morning. Tressa Brown, an attendant on duty at the laundry, said a police car had been stationed at the business since 3 a.m.

"I know an officer had to sit here all night 'til the FBI got here," she said.

Brown said she initially was prohibited from entering the building when she arrived for work and was told she could not go in until the FBI was done searching the business. She was allowed in about three hours later, after investigators searched a washing machine and two dryers.

"He was washing away his evidence, I am guessing," Brown said.

A Springfield Public Schools employee database shows Craig M. Wood was hired in August 1998 as a paraprofessional for in-school suspension. A 2012-13 salary list published by the district shows he was still working as a para for ISS, making $17,220, as of last year.

A current staff list on the Pleasant View Middle School website shows a Craig Wood working this year, as well.

Springfield Public Schools confirmed that Wood was an employee. In addition to his work as a teachers aide assigned to In-School Suspension, he is a coach at Pleasant View Elementary and Middle School.

His employment has been suspended until this matter is resolved, the news release stated.

"Last night we learned the terrible news that one of our students had been abducted near her home," Superintendent Norm Ridder said in the release. "This morning our sadness is compounded by the recent developments in the case of Hailey Owens' abduction."

Wood was booked into the Greene County Jail last night on suspicion of first-degree murder, according to online jail records. At 8:30 a.m., the Greene County Prosecutor's Office had not yet received a probable cause statement seeking charges against Wood.

Police found evidence of foul play at the scene, Williams said.

Owens was a student at Westport Elementary. Last year, she attended Bowerman Elementary.

According to Becky Kovar at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Amber Alert for Owens is "in the process of being canceled." Kovar said the directive to cancel the alert came from Springfield police. But Springfield police denied they were behind the cancellation in a note posted by the department's official Twitter account.

As of 12:30 p.m., the Amber Alert was canceled.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which operates Amber alerts, at one point sent out information that the girl had been found dead.

Owens was abducted from a street near her home on Lombard Street Tuesday, just before 5 p.m.

Police say witnesses called police and chased the car on foot. One witness attempted to follow the vehicle in a car, Williams said, but lost the suspect.

A multi-state Amber alert was issued about 7 p.m.

Police were back at the alleged crime scene at 1538 E. Stanford St. this morning. At least half a dozen officers could be seen working the site, putting up additional crime scene tape around a small single-story house.

According to online property records, Wood owned that Stanford Street home.

The gold-colored Ford Ranger pick-up allegedly used in the abduction is still parked in the driveway, the driver's door hanging open.

A release from the City of Springfield said an FBI evidence response team arrived about 2:15 a.m. to assist with the investigation.

The school district also is assigning personnel in reaction to the abduction, according to the release.

"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," Ridder said in release.

The district release also stated that officials are "fully cooperating" with the investigation. No other comments are expected at this time.

Joe Bridges, a Springfield entertainment promoter, has organized a candle light vigil for the Owens family.

Three hours after the vigil was announced on Facebook, more than 500 people indicated they would attend the event, scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday on Historic Commercial Street.

Bridges said he was a distant relative of the young girl.

"This family was not anywhere near ready to bury this 10-year old daughter," he said.

He believes the shock of the abduction is citywide. He compared the incident to the 1992 case of the three missing women.

"This is a pretty big hit," Bridges said.


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