“It's tragic, it's horrific, in 30 plus years of law enforcement I've deal with a lot of things I can't specifically point to a case like this,” says Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams. “An abduction of a young child by a stranger and then the tragic ending.”
The scramble to try to save Hailey Owens started the moment the 10-year-old was pulled into the suspect's Ford Ranger on Tuesday.
“A few witnesses who observed the abduction chased the vehicle on foot,” says Williams. “Someone else got into a car to follow the vehicle and lost it while calling 911 and getting us to respond. More than one person was involved in trying to stop this and unfortunately it didn't happen.”
That 911 call came into police at 4:48 p.m.
Williams said officers realized they had the worse-case scenario, a stranger abduction.
"He determined very quickly that this was a very legitimate, unfortunate incident," says Williams.
While officers worked on the Amber Alert, investigators worked other leads.
Because of those witnesses they have a license plate.
The plate lead to the vehicle’s owner in Ash Grove, a relative of 45-year-old Craig Michael Wood.
Just after 7 p.m., the Missouri State Highway Patrol issues an Amber Alert.
As word spreads of Hailey’s abduction, police start to close in on Wood.
At 8:30 p.m., police conducting surveillance on several different locations see Wood pull up in front of his own home, 1538 E Stanford in Springfield.
Wood agrees to go with police to be interviewed but, then refuses to speak and asks for a lawyer.
In the meantime, police get a warrant to search Wood's home.
That home, along with the original abduction site, is among multiple crime scenes that include the Dutch Maid Laundromat.
“Waiting on the FBI to come here to collect evidence out of the washer and the dryer,” says Tressa Brown.
Brown works at the Laundromat where the suspect was believed to be Tuesday night.
“He had two dryers and a washer,” says Brown. “They took some blankets, some sheets and I know some shirts and a couple of pairs of jeans they took all of his bedding items that they had in the dryer.”
All in an effort to piece together the last hours of Hailey’s life.
“We did catch the person responsible,” says Williams. “Unfortunately after a very tragic ending.”
And the question everyone wants the answer to: Why?
“That's going to be up to the suspect, we've interviewed him, unfortunately he's chosen not to talk to us so we don't have the answers to the questions as to motive our why it happened,” says Williams.
Wood is employed by the R-12 District, which raises concerns about any other child victims.
Chief Paul Williams says they will now work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to see if there are any ties in their cases to the suspect in this case.
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