SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Greene County Prosecutor Daniel Patterson announced that Craig Michael Wood, 45, has been charged with three offenses, including murder, for the kidnapping and killing of Hailey Owens. Wood is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping according to Patterson. He appeared in court Friday morning. Read that story here.
Patterson held a news conference on Wednesday afternoon where he explained the charges, thanked both the community and law enforcement and at times appeared to choke back tears. Police confirmed on Wednesday that Owens was found deceased inside Wood’s home after an Amber Alert had been issued for her on Tuesday night.
A probable cause statement released by Patterson’s office indicates a female and male witness in an open garage observed a tan Ford Ranger pull up next to a girl on Lombard St. The woman told police that the man inside the truck initially asked the girl where Springfield Street was, and she started to walk away. The witness said that the man then opened the door of his truck and motioned for her to come back. After she took a couple of steps towards the truck, the man lunged at her and threw her into the truck “like a rag doll.” The female witness said the man then fled, driving very fast.
The male witness corroborated the female witnesses’ description of the man, which included that he appeared to be in his 40s, was wearing a baseball cap and had gray hair with an unshaven face.
A preliminary investigation determined that Owens was believed to be the girl and she was reportedly walking home from a friend’s house. The female witness was adamant that she remembered the license plate on the truck, which police tracked and were led to a home in Ash Grove, Mo. The truck was registered to Wood’s parents, who told police that their son, Craig Wood, was the primary driver of the truck.
Police cross-checked the witness descriptions with a description of Wood that matched, and then found his address in the 1500 block of E. Stanford.
Shortly after police arrived to the address, Wood pulled into the driveway, driving the truck that had a matching description and plates of the vehicle being sought. Two sergeants observed Wood holding a roll of duct tape, which he tossed into the bed of the truck as he exited the cab.
Wood agreed to be interviewed at police headquarters, where he changed the version of his story a couple of times. He first claimed that he had driven straight home after working at Pleasant View Middle School and then amended the story by saying that he drove around for a while. He denied making contact with Hailey Owens.
Court documents indicate that other officers did a safety sweep of the home to check for Owens and smelled a strong odor of bleach as they entered the basement. After noticing the smell and bottles of bleach in the basement, officers obtained a search warrant.
After conducting a more thorough search of the home and basement, Owens’ body was found. Investigators also found a spent .22 caliber shell in the basement.
Wood is currently being held in jail without a bond and will have court dates set for a first appearance and preliminary hearing in the coming weeks according to Patterson.
Wood’s charge for first-degree is punishable by death or life imprisonment without the possibility for parole if he’s found guilty. Armed criminal action is punishable by a minimum of three years up to life in prison and child kidnapping holds a minimum of ten years up to life if he’s convicted.