School coach charged in Springfield girl's death
SPRINGFIELD, MO (KFVS/AP) - A middle-school football coach has been charged with first-degree murder in the abduction and death of a 10-year-old girl in southwest Missouri.
Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson filed criminal charges late Wednesday afternoon against 45-year-old Craig Michael Wood of Springfield.
He is charged with grabbing fourth-grader Hailey Owens off a neighborhood street on Tuesday afternoon, just blocks from her home.
Wood was arrested and jailed Tuesday night in connection with the girl's death but not initially charged. A body believed to be that of the missing girl was found Wednesday at a Springfield home owned by Wood.
Wood has worked for the Springfield School District since 1998 as a substitute teacher, coach and teacher's aide. Police say he and the girl apparently didn't know each other.
Witnesses told police that Hailey was taken by a man in a pickup truck Tuesday evening.
Wood had been jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder in Hailey's disappearance. He was arrested late Tuesday inside a vehicle parked outside his house.
The Springfield School District says Wood is a coach and teacher's aide at a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Hailey did not attend that school, and Williams says the two apparently didn't know each other.
Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Norm Ridder released the following statement:
Last night we learned the terrible news that one of our students had been abducted near her home. This morning, our sadness is compounded by the recent developments in the case of Hailey Owens' abduction.
The suspect in this case, Craig Michael Wood, was arrested by Springfield Police Department. Wood has been employed by SPS since Aug. 18, 1998. He works as a paraprofessional and athletic coach at Pleasant View K-8 School. His employment has been suspended until this matter is resolved.
Hailey is a student at Westport Elementary School and last year she attended Bowerman Elementary School.
I offer my support to Hailey's family and to our SPS community. Students and staff at three of our schools are coping with this situation. To support these school communities directly impacted by this tragedy, I have assigned additional counseling staff and school police officers to be on hand until further notice.
We are fully cooperating with law enforcement officials as their investigation continues. Because this is an ongoing investigation, I will not be making any further comments about the situation at this time.
An Amber Alert was issued Tuesday for 10-year-old Hailey Owens, abducted in Springfield, Missouri.
It happened at 4:48 p.m. at 3247 west Lombard Tuesday.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article.