Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Football coach charged in Missouri girl's death heads to court

Stacey Barfield, mother of Hailey Owens, center, takes a teddy bear from the makeshift memorial Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 near the site where the 10-year-old girl was abducted just blocks from her Springfield, Mo., home. Prosecutors have charged Craig Michael Wood with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action in their girls death. Prosecutors says the fourth-grader's body was found stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers in the basement of Wood's Springfield home. She had been shot in the head.. (AP Photo/The Springfield News-Leader, Dean Curtis) NO SALES

Enlarge Image

Stacey Barfield, mother of Hailey Owens, center, takes a teddy bear from the makeshift memorial Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 near the site where the 10-year-old girl was abducted just blocks from her Springfield, Mo., home. Prosecutors have charged Craig Michael Wood with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action in their girls death. Prosecutors says the fourth-grader's body was found stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers in the basement of Wood's Springfield home. She had been shot in the head.. (AP Photo/The Springfield News-Leader, Dean Curtis) NO SALES

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A middle-school football coach accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old girl is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday, as her southwest Missouri community struggles with a mix of anger and memories of a vivacious, trusting little girl.

Craig Wood, 45, is accused of snatching Hailey Owens as she walked home from her best friend's house Tuesday evening in Springfield. Neighbours said they watched in horror as Hailey, just two blocks from her home, was pulled into a pickup truck that quickly sped away.

Her body, with a gunshot wound to the head, was found in Wood's basement. Wood is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action.

Community members were trying Thursday to make sense of the brutal crime, their memories of the bubbly fourth grader now mixed with shock and anger. Family and friends were remembering Hailey for her cheery disposition, a child who loved to laugh, smile and dance.

"She was pure gold," said her aunt, Sara Wells.

Gary Tew, principal at Westport Elementary School, said Hailey was a "happy-go-lucky kiddo" who made sure new students felt welcome and belonged to an afterschool club that taught character lessons through a local church. He said he last saw her on Valentine's Day, recalling her enthusiastic dancing at a class party.

Thousands are expected to attend a candlelight vigil in her honour Saturday night.

Public anger is palpable in Springfield, about 160 miles southeast of Kansas City, as questions swirled about the suspect's background and motive. Wood was a 16-year football coach at a middle school who also worked as a substitute teacher and teacher's aide overseeing suspensions.

Police said they found Wood holding duct tape as he left his father's pickup truck parked outside his home Tuesday night, just hours after Hailey went missing. Court records indicate the girl's body was found stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers in the basement of Wood's home, which was damp with bleach — presumably used to clean the crime scene.

"I'm furious," said Jerry Tiffany, a retired construction worker who stood outside the Greene County courthouse on Thursday holding a handmade sign that read, "Child killer. Hang 'em."

"I've been up all night, with tears in my eyes," he said. "Kids can't even go out and play anymore."

At least three people told police they saw Hailey as she was pulled inside a pickup truck that had driven back and forth several times down the street before the driver stopped to ask the girl for directions. One homeowner gave chase on foot, and another followed the fleeing truck in his own car.

Law enforcement officials and family members said that despite Wood's status as a school employee, he and Hailey apparently didn't know each other. Hailey's home and Westport Elementary are on the city's west side, while Wood worked at Pleasant View School, 20 kilometres north of Springfield, and lived on the city's east side.

Springfield School District officials have said their employment screening process found no warning signs when hiring Wood, first as a temporary employee in 1998 and then full time eight years later.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media