Wed., 7:44 pm: Football coach charged in Missouri girl’s death
ST. LOUIS – A middle-school football coach was charged today with first-degree murder in the death of a 10-year-old girl in southwest Missouri who was reportedly snatched off a neighborhood street just blocks from her home as several neighbors watched in horror.
Craig Michael Wood, 45, of Springfield also faces kidnapping and armed criminal action charges, according to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, who filed the charges late this afternoon.
Wood is accused of kidnapping fourth-grader Hailey Owens about 5 p.m. Tuesday as she walked to a friend’s house. Wood was arrested inside the truck parked outside his small, single-story home Tuesday night.
A body believed to be that of the missing girl was found today at a Springfield home owned by Wood. Official confirmation won’t occur until after an autopsy, but Police Chief Paul Williams said “we have a high degree of confidence” in the preliminary identification. He did not disclose the child’s cause of death.
Witnesses told investigators that a man in a gold 2008 Ford Ranger pickup truck drove down the street several times before abducting Hailey.
The Springfield School District said Wood is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher’s aide who supervises in-school suspensions at a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Hailey did not attend that school, and Williams said the two apparently didn’t know each other.
“There’s no connection that we’ve been able to determine at this time between the victim and the suspect,” he said.
Williams said police have no idea of a motive for the killing. He said Wood has not talked to investigators since his arrest.