SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Little Hailey Owens was a 10-year-old fourth grader at Westport Grade School in Springfield, Mo. She was last seen in front of a house on W. Lombard St. before witnesses say she was snatched by a stranger just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18. She was later found dead in a man’s home.
Her friends say she was funny and full of energy and that she’ll be horribly missed. Nine-year-old Jasmine Cox said Hailey was her best friend.
“She was my best friend. We’ve been friends since first grade because that’s when I started going to B. Elementary,” she said.
She said Hailey was her favorite playmate. The two would ride bikes, climb trees, play with dolls and always laugh.
“She was funny. Whenever we played Barbie, it was like in the middle of winter and she’d start saying, ‘I’m going surfing,’” Jasmine said.
Jasmine’s mom, Shalala Morell, already misses Hailey’s permanent smile.
“I just bawled, I mean I still bawl,” she said. “Always smiling. I hardly ever saw her without a smile.”
Morell says it hasn’t completely sunk in yet — for anyone — that Hailey’s actually gone, but she knows she’ll miss Jasmine’s 10th birthday party.
“This beautiful, young girl who’s supposed to be at my daughter’s birthday party, won’t be there, and it’s sad,” Morell said.
And she’s saying what she can to help her daughter cope with the loss of her best friend.
“They said that right now that God was going to be with me, and I was going to be okay,” Jasmine said.
Morell also set up a fund and a Facebook page for Hailey. On the page are updates on what people are doing to remember Hailey. One thing has been turning on porch lights in honor of her. Both lights are on at the house where she was last seen.