GREENE COUNTY, Mo. – Charges have been filed against a 45-year-old man accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old Springfield, Mo. girl Tuesday.
Craig Michael Wood of Ash Grove, Mo. is charged with first-degree murder, child kidnapping, and armed criminal action. He is being held without bond and could face the death penalty.
According to the probable cause statement, a female witness saw Wood's Ford Ranger pull up to Hailey Owens and ask her where Springfield Street was. The witness said Hailey tried to walk away from the vehicle, but Wood opened the door of his truck and said "Hey, come here for a minute," extending his hand to her, and motioning for him to come to him.
When the girl took a step closer to the truck, the witness said Wood grabbed her and "threw her into the truck 'like a rag doll.'" Wood is accused of then speeding away from the scene.
Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterrson held a Wednesday evening news conference about the charges against Wood.
"While they were tragically not able to save Hailey, I want to express my appreciation to the citizens who were aware and alerted law enforcement," said Patterson.
Two neighbors who witnessed the kidnapping are now struggling to live with the outcome. Ricky Riggins says he was sitting in his vehicle in his driveway when he heard his neighbor scream Tuesday afternoon.
"Yelling at her at the girl telling her to get away don't go to the truck, get away, get away and then he yelled at the man, let her go, let her go!" described Riggins.
The neighbors say they were too late.
"He opened the door and said hey come here, and grabbed her and my neighbor tried to grab her and he's like this far from getting her out of his hands," said Riggins.
Riggins then chased Wood in his vehicle, but couldn't catch up with him.
An AMBER Alert was activated a short time after the kidnapping. Witnesses were able to provide a good description of Wood, his vehicle, and the license plate tag, leading officers to Wood's home a few hours later.
Officers tracked the license plate tag to Wood's father, who said his son was driving the vehicle.
Two officers responded to Wood's home in the 1500 block of E. Stanford. A short time after they arrived in the area they saw a tan Ford Ranger matching the description of the suspect's vehicle pull into Wood's driveway.
The officers approached Wood as he got out of the truck, and noticed he had a roll of duct tape in his hand. When he saw the officers, he threw the duct tape into the bed of the truck.
Wood was taken to police headquarters to be interviewed, and police say he had two different stories about where he was during the kidnapping.
"These are very hard facts to talk about, I'm just glad that he is captured and we will be able to bring him to justice," said Patterson.
Police say Wood took Hailey four miles from where he abducted her to his home.
Officers did a safety sweep at Wood's home to look for Owens and noticed a strong scent of bleach. The odor got stronger as officers approached the basement, and they noticed the floor was wet.
Early Thursday morning a search warrant was granted to search Wood's home. Two crime scene technicians found two plastic storage totes stacked on top of each other.
Papers and documents were in the top tote, but Hailey's body was found in the bottom tote, wrapped in trash bags. Police say Hailey appeared to have a gunshot wound to the base of her skull, and ligature marks on her arms. A .22 caliber shell casing was found in Wood's basement.
Brittany Fuqua's daughter played with Hailey and says she had seen Wood in the neighborhood recently.
"You can tell your child over and over, don't talk to strangers, but if they see someone and they feel comfortable, they are children," said Fuqua, who went on to say that as parents you try to protect your children, but you don't want them to fear life either.
If you would like to help the Owens family, a memorial account has been established in Hailey Owens' name. Donations can be mailed to Empire Bank C/O Hailey Owens Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 3397, Springfield, Mo. 65808. The bank's telephone number is 417-881-3100.
On Wednesday night a Facebook group organized for people to turn on their porch lights to show support for the Owens family. By 10 p.m. Wednesday more than 114,000 people had joined the group.
You can read the entire probable cause statement below.