SPRINGFIELD, MO. - Springfield police said at midnight Tuesday that they have a suspect in custody in the abduction of 10-year-old Hailey Owens, but the girl remains missing. The suspect's vehicle was found with the man inside at a residence in south Springfield, according to a police news release.
A command post has been set up at National Avenue and Bennett Street and around 30 to 40 officers have "begun an extensive search that will continue throughout the night, or until she is found," the news release said.
A couple of hours after Hailey's reported abduction, her mother said she is trying to stay strong — and positive.
"My nerves are shot," Stacey Owens said, about two hours after Hailey Owens was allegedly yanked into a pickup truck while walking near her home in west Springfield.
A fourth-grader, Hailey Owens lives in the 3300 block of West Page Street, a couple of blocks from where she was abducted, said Stacey Owens.
A witness told the News-Leader he saw the man luring Hailey to his pickup and pulling her in.
Stacey Owens said her daughter, a student at Westport Elementary, has a friend who lives on Lombard Street, and she was headed home when she was taken.
Stacey Owens said she and husband, Jeff, along with their young son, are trying to find strength through the ordeal.
Five family members were outside the Owenses' home when a News-Leader reporter arrived.
Aunt Erin Petersen said she wanted to do anything she could to help. She drove from Nixa after multiple friends called her to say they had heard her niece was missing.
"She's a very lively, bubbly, sweet little girl. She's spontaneous, very innocent," she said, choking back tears.
"I'm in shock right now," Petersen said. "I feel like I need to be productive to find my niece."
"We will find her," she added.
Shortly after 7 p.m., the Owenses accompanied police to the Springfield Police Department headquarters.
That's about the time a statewide Amber Alert was issued — at 7:07 p.m. — two hours after police were dispatched to the abduction call at 3247 W. Lombard.
Two additional alerts were issued for Kansas and Oklahoma around 9 p.m.
Late into Tuesday night, police were still searching for Hailey, following up on leads.
Hailey was pulled into a pickup about 5 p.m. by an unknown man, police said. A witness told the News-Leader the man lured her to the pickup by asking if she knew the location of "Springfield Street."
Hailey, whose birthday is Aug. 18, 2003, was taken by an unshaven white man in his early 40s with gray hair, reported to be driving a gold 2008 Ford Ranger, police said. The license plate number was reported to be 1YS454 or 1YF454.
"Hailey is skinny with sandy blonde hair and wearing jean shorts," police said in a news release. "If you have any information on Hailey's whereabouts, please call 911." Police later said she was wearing purple flip-flops, has long hair and weighs about 90 pounds.
The Amber Alert said the suspect is believed to be en route to Oklahoma.
Police were treating parts of Lombard as a crime scene by about 5:30 p.m., and a witness told the News-Leader he saw the girl taken.
Carlos Edwards told a News-Leader photographer he saw the girl grabbed as he and his wife sat in the garage of their home on West Lombard. He said the girl had been visiting with a friend on the street and lived nearby.
The suspect drove up and down the street several times before pulling up to the girl and asking her the question about Springfield to get her closer to the truck before grabbing her, Edwards said. He said the girl was pulled through the open driver's side door, over the driver and placed in the passenger seat.
Police later said, "We don't know where Hailey is. ...We don't know if she knew this man. We don't think that she does." Police also said the girl's mother "does not know who is in that truck."
Describing his shock while recounting what he saw, Edwards said he tried to run after the truck as his wife got the license number and called 911.
He spoke with concern about the girl and surprise that the man had grabbed the girl right in front of him.
"I can't believe he didn't see us sitting here in the garage," he said, explaining he heard the man talk to the girl.