Across the Ozarks and around the world, thousands of people who never met Hailey Owens or her family paid tribute to her memory on February 19th. In a simple and poignant gesture of support, they left their porch lights on in remembrance of her short life.
Those who knew and loved the 10-year-old girl had hoped for a better outcome when she went missing on Tuesday in Springfield, Missouri. She has started out walking from a friend’s home and was never seen alive again.
An Amber Alert was sent out across several states. A female eyewitness to Owens’s abduction said that a man in a gold Ford Ranger had pulled up beside the young girl to ask for directions. He then asked her to come closer to the vehicle. A short while later he pulled her into the car “like a rag doll” and sped off.
Going off the information, police found themselves at the residence of Craig Michael Wood of Ash Grove, Missouri on Tuesday evening. Her body was allegedly found in his vehicle.
— NOTRE TWAT (@HeyJennyLeone) February 20, 2014
Wood has since been charged with first degree murder, child kidnapping, and armed criminal action. According to a statement released by Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Norm Ridder, Wood has been suspended from his job at Pleasant View K-8 School, “until the matter is resolved”.
A Facebook page has been created “in loving memory” of young Hailey Owens. Family and friends have received an outpouring of love and support from within their community. Owens’s family members remember the little girl fondly.
“Hailey was very outgoing and popular,” said her aunt, Erin Peterson. “She had many friends and people who will always love her dearly.”
Peterson described her niece as a “remarkably special child” with a smile “that could light up the darkest of rooms”.
A candlelight march in her memory is planned for Saturday.
Image via Youtube