The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

State, national, world

February 19, 2014

Football coach charged in Missouri girl’s death

ST. LOUIS — A middle-school football coach was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the death of a 10-year-old girl who was snatched off a street just blocks from her southwest Missouri home as several residents watched in horror.

Craig Michael Wood also faces kidnapping and armed criminal action charges, according to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, who filed the charges late Wednesday afternoon. Wood is accused of kidnapping fourth-grader Hailey Owens in Springfield as she walked home from a friend’s house Tuesday evening.

Patterson said the girl had been shot in the head.

Wood was inside a truck parked outside his small, single-story home in Springfield when police arrested him Tuesday night. A probable cause statement released Wednesday said the 45-year-old Wood was holding a roll of duct tape in his hands when officers arrived, and that the girl’s body was found in his basement — stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers. The floor was still damp from bleach, the statement said.

Authorities won’t officially confirm that the body is Hailey’s until after an autopsy, but Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said “we have a high degree of confidence” in the preliminary identification, which indicates that it is the girl.

Witnesses told investigators that a man in a gold 2008 Ford Ranger pickup truck drove down the street several times before abducting Hailey. Williams said the witnesses called 911 to report the truck’s license number.

Resident Ricky Riggins told the Springfield News-Leader he chased the fleeing pickup in his car after a neighbor tried to pull the girl away.

“I couldn’t keep up,” Riggins told the newspaper. “He was probably five to six cars ahead of me. ... It was so fast.”

Hailey did not attend Pleasant View School, where Wood worked. She was a student at Westport Elementary School this year, and attended Bowerman Elementary School last year.

Williams said the girl and Wood 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,” the chief said.

Springfield school officials said Wood is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher’s aide who supervises in-school suspensions at Pleasant View School, which has students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Norm Ridder, the Springfield district’s superintendent, said in a statement Wednesday that Wood began working for the district in August 1998. He said Wood has been suspended since his arrest.

Wood was initially hired as a temporary employee who worked as a substitute teacher before he was hired full time in 2006, school district spokeswoman Teresa Bledsoe said later Wednesday. He has coached football at Pleasant View since 1998 and was also an assistant boys’ basketball coach.

“He met all of our qualifications for employment,” Bledsoe said, noting that the Springfield district has a more rigorous background check requirement than state law, with an additional screening designed to detect substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect as well as any past criminal violations.

A records search shows Wood had little criminal history. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 1990 in Greene County and was fined $100. Wood also was convicted in 2001 for illegal taking of wildlife, the News-Leader reported.

Williams said police have no idea of a motive for the killing. He said Wood has not talked to investigators since his arrest.

1
Text Only
State, national, world
  • Diamondback.jpg Watonga prison lays off nearly 100 employees

    The Diamondback Correctional Facility has been vacant since 2010, when the state of Arizona opted not to renew its contract with the prison.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Nepal Everest Avalanc_Hass(1).jpg Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

    The Sherpa guides had gone early in the morning to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche hit them at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp where he is monitoring rescue efforts.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sinking ferry web.jpg Transcript shows ferry captain delayed evacuation

    The confirmed death toll from Wednesday’s sinking off southern South Korea was 26, most of bodies found floating in the ocean, the coast guard said. But 48 hours after the sinking the number of deaths was expected to rise sharply with about 270 people missing, many of them high school students on a class trip. Officials said there were 179 survivors.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama mug web.jpg Obama: Defending health law good for some Democrats

    For their part, Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace “Obamacare,” the GOP’s favorite target in most congressional campaigns.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama Ukraine web.jpg Obama shows skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    Obama did not say what additional sanctions might be in the offing if commitments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva do not materialize.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay Marriage Oklahoma web.jpg Circuit judge in gay marriage case asks pointed questions

    The two cases are the first to reach an appellate court since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Inman web.jpg Oklahoma House Democratic leader Scott Inman: No time for tax cut

    Inman made the comments a little more than two weeks after as many as 25,000 teachers, administrators and students rallied March 31 at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to restore $200 million in public education funding that has been lost in recent years due to budget cuts.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Minimum wage web.jpg Some workers are excluded from minimum wage, increased or not

    The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says nearly 1.8 million hourly workers were paid below $7.25 last year — about 2 percent of the 76 million Americans earning hourly wages. An additional 1.5 million earned exactly $7.25.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston Marathon web.jpg Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race on Monday

    Security plans include thousands of uniformed police, hundreds of plainclothes officers and about 100 strategically positioned video cameras that will monitor the crowds. Police also strongly discouraged spectators from bringing backpacks.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Airlines helpful fuel web.jpg Why high oil prices actually are good for airlines

    These changes, along with high oil prices, have created an insurmountable roadblock to startup airlines that hope to undercut established carriers.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads