Middle-school football coach charged with first-degree murder in the death of 10-year-old girl

By Tom Boggioni
Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:20 EDT
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A middle-school football coach in Springfield, Missouri, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the death of 10-year-old Hailey Owens, who was snatched off a street Tuesday afternoon, setting off a three-state Amber Alert.

According to CBS news, Craig Michael Wood, 45, is accused of kidnapping and murdering the fourth-grader as she walked home from a friend’s house Tuesday evening. Wood also faces kidnapping and armed criminal action charges, according to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson.

Patterson said the girl had been shot in the head.

Wood was discovered and arrested inside of a truck parked outside his single-story home in Springfield Tuesday night. A police statement released Wednesday night said that Wood was holding a roll of duct tape in his hands when officers arrived, and that the girl’s body was found stuffed inside two garbage bags in the basement, the floor still damp from bleach.

Witnesses told police that a man in a gold 2008 Ford Ranger pickup truck drove down the street several times before abducting Hailey.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said the witnesses called 911 to report the truck’s license number but couldn’t stop the driver from grabbing Hailey and driving off.

Resident Ricky Riggins told the Springfield News-Leader he chased the pickup in his car  but was unable to keep up.

“I couldn’t keep up,” Riggins told the newspaper. “He was probably five to six cars ahead of me. … It was so fast.”

Springfield school officials described Wood as a seventh-grade football coach and teacher’s aide who also supervised in-school suspensions at Pleasant View Middle School. The victim, an elementary school student, did not attend Pleasant View School.

Authorities have not officially confirmed that the body is Hailey’s pending an autopsy.

However Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said “we have a high degree of confidence” in the preliminary identification, which indicates that it is the fourth-grader.

Video below, via KJRH TV:

Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni is based in the quaint seaside community of Pacific Beach in less quaint San Diego. He writes about politics, media, culture, and other annoyances. Mostly he spends his days at the beach gazing at the horizon waiting for the end of the world, or the sun to go down. Whichever comes first.
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