Hailey Owens, the 10-year old girl who went missing while walking near her home in Springfield, Missouri on Tuesday afternoon, was found lifeless in a vehicle belonging to a public school employee late Tuesday night.
Craig Wood has been arrested and charged with first degree murder after police tracked his vehicle–a gold Ford Ranger, which was described by a witness–to his residence. Dozens of law enforcement officials had been searching for Owens, and an Amber Alert went out across several states after she was reported missing.
Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Norm Ridder released a statement on Wednesday about the tragic news and about Wood, whose employment with the school district has been suspended pending an investigation.
“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,” reads the statement. “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.”
Police say they believe the abduction was random.
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