SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Springfield, Mo., police confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the body of Hailey Owens, 10, was located inside the home of Craig Michael Wood, 45, a man who has worked for the Springfield Public School District since 1998.
Police named Wood as a suspect in Hailey's abduction earlier in the day and it was later discovered Wood worked as a coach at a Springfield school that teaches students K-8.
Superintendent Dr. Norm Ridder released this statement on Wednesday morning.
Springfield, Mo., Police Chief Paul Williams said witnesses reported seeing a man abduct Owens Tuesday shortly before 5 p.m. as she was walking in the 3200 block of W. Lombard Street in Springfield. Williams credited witnesses with helping police locate and identify the suspect.
"They had observed a vehicle ... circling the neighborhood," Williams said. "They had also observed our victim and that at some point observed the vehicle pull up and the driver have a conversation with the young girl. She initially ignored and then came back and spoke with the driver at which time he suddenly jumped out or grabbed her and pulled her into the vehicle."
Williams said at least one witness ran after the vehicle.
"A couple witnesses who observed it chased the vehicle on foot. Someone else actually got into a car and tried to chase, follow the vehicle, and lost it while calling 911 and getting us to respond," William said.
Despite losing the vehicle, witnesses were able to obtain the suspect's license plate, which subsequently led officers to Wood's home, located in the 1500 block of E. Stanford Street. Officers stationed outside his house observed him pull up to his home around 8:30 p.m. when they subsequently arrested him. Police said Wood refused to talk and requested a lawyer.
Williams said after obtaining a search warrant for Wood's home around 2:15 a.m., officers entered the residence around 2:30 a.m. Once inside the home, Williams said officers found evidence indicating "we potentially have a body." Officers were not able to confirm the body was that of Hailey Owens until around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday. Police would not elaborate further as to why.
During the news conference, Williams said investigators were processing 'multiple crime scenes.' He said he did not know at that time where Hailey was killed.
"Unfortunately, he's chosen not to talk to us so we don't have the answers to questions as to motive or why it happened, Williams said.
According to police, there is no indication that Hailey and Wood knew each other.
When asked about the reason it took three and a half hours to find the suspect after witnesses gave police his license plate number, Williams said it all happened quickly.
"That's pretty quick to identify and arrest someone in a crime of this magnitude. It's a process, gathering information, running down leads and working through the process. It took us three-and-a-half to four hours to do all that," he said.
Williams called the case tragic and horrific.
"Thirty plus years of law enforcement I've done a lot of things," he said. "I can not specifically point to a case like this."
Timeline of events
- Tuesday 4:48 p.m. Witnesses call Springfield police to report child abduction
- Tuesday 5:00 p.m. Police arrive at scene of reported abduction
- Tuesday 7:00 p.m. State-wide Amber Alert is issued for Hailey Owens
- Tuesday 8:30 p.m. Following a tip, police locate Craig Michael Wood in his vehicle in the 1500 block of E. Stanford Street. He is subsequently taken into custody.
- Tuesday 11:30 p.m. About 30 police officers and investigators search area in the 1500 block of E. Stanford Street near Wood's residence where they found evidence of foul play.
- Wednesday 2:15 a.m. Springfield police obtain search warrant for Wood's home.
- Wednesday 2:30 a.m. Police make entry into Wood's home, discover body
- Wednesday 6:30 a.m. Police hold news conference, name Wood as suspect
- Wednesday 7:30 a.m. Amber Alert organization tweets the Amber Alert has been canceled.
- Wednesday 10:45 a.m. Police confirm body found in Wood's home is that of Hailey Owens.