Hailey Owens May Be Body Found in Cellar of School's Football Coach

Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 08:03 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Hailey Owens, a 10-year-old girl who was abducted Tuesday night near her home in Springfield, MO, is believed to be dead after police found a body resembling the little girl's in a trash bag in the cellar of local middle school football coach Craig Michael Wood.

The 45-year-old Wood was charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and several additional armed criminal charges, according to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, the Associated Press reported. Wood was said to be holding a roll of duct tape when police approached him in his vehicle.

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Owen was reportedly walking back from a friend's house when Wood allegedly snatched her from the street in front of several adults. Despite their attempts, the adults were unable to catch up to the assailant's vehicle, which witnesses told police had circled the area several times prior to the abduction, CBS News reported.

A witness at the scene told police that she saw Wood's Ford Ranger pull up to Owens and the driver appeared to be asking the little girl if she knew where Springfield Street was, CBS affiliate KMOV reported.

Owens reportedly attempted to walk away from the vehicle when Wood allegedly opened the door and waved her over, saying, "Hey, come here for a minute."

"Our witnesses said it happened just that quick," Police Chief Paul Williams said, KMOV reported.

One of the residents who attempted to chase the suspect was Ricky Riggins, who told the Springfield News-Leader that he tried to run after the truck once he realized the girl had been abducted.

"I couldn't keep up," Riggins said. "He was probably five to six cars ahead of me. ... It was so fast."

As for the child's body found in Wood's basement, a spokesperson for the Springfield Police Department said, "While she has not been positively identified, we have a high degree of confidence that it is Hailey Owens," ABC News reported.

Wood has been suspended from the Pleasant View School, where he coached football and basketball as well as supervised in-school suspensions. The school, where Wood had been working since 1998, has students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

According to Springfield School District Spokeswoman Teresa Bledsoe, the school had performed a rigorous background check beyond what the state requires before Wood was hired, adding that "he met all of our qualifications for employment."

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