Witness Chased After Truck Following Hailey Owens' Abduction, Shares Story

By Lindsay Clein , Daniel Shedd | dshedd@kolr10.com

Published 02/19 2014 10:58PM

Updated 02/20 2014 07:00AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  Witnesses who live in the neighborhood where Hailey was abducted played a large role in helping police track down the suspect.

One witness actually chased the suspect in his car.

"I heard my neighbors screaming, 'get away, get away, don't go to him, don't touch her,' all this stuff."

Ricky Riggins was one of the last people to see ten-year-old Hailey Owens. 

"It was just something I'll never forget," he says.  "That's for sure.  I remember plain as day what she was doing, what she was wearing."

Hailey was walking on West Lombard Street near where Riggins lives just before 5 p.m. Tuesday.  That's when she was abducted, right in front of Riggins' home.

His neighbors, Carlos and Michelle Edwards, told police they was close enough to hear Craig Wood ask Hailey where Springfield street is.  She ignored him at first, but then he told her to come over to the truck and when she did, he snatched her and threw her inside "like a rag doll."

"And my neighbor said, 'he took her, he took her!' so I got in my car and drove down the street to see if I could catch up to them.  By the time I got in my car, he had already turned onto Golden, so he had quite a jump on me."

Riggins says he acted on instinct and adrenaline, his neighbors as well.

"They were calling the police as I left," Riggins says.  They got his license plate number and saw what the guy looked like."

That information taken down by neighbors was vital in helping police track down Craig Wood.

"I've never seen anyone get kidnapped," Riggins says.  "It was surreal, it was weird.  I didn't know if he had a gun, he could've beat me to a pulp-- I don't know, but I wasn't gonna let him take that girl."

The site where Hailey was last seen has turned into a memorial with signs, flowers, balloons, teddy bears and candles.

"The last time I saw her she looked happy anyway," says Riggins.  "So I would rather think of her like that than anything else."

Riggins encourages people to be alert like those in his neighborhood were in hopes of preventing a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

"We tried to get it as quick as we could," says Riggins.  "But we weren't fast enough at all."

Riggins estimates the suspect was traveling at a speed of at least 60 miles per hour, which is why he couldn't keep up. 

Riggins says he will likely never feel the same way in his own neighborhood again.

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