SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – One of the biggest advocates for Hailey’s Law, which would speed up the AMBER Alert process, is facing federal charges.
Three years after Hailey Owens’ tragic death her stepfather Jeffrey Barfield is charged with sexual exploitation of minors. He was indicted last Wednesday.
The charges against Barfield left many in shock. He’s been the voice behind Hailey’s Law hoping to save children’s lives in the future. Lawmakers are hopeful these charges won’t keep the crucial law from passing.
“This bill is a memorial to Hailey Owens and about preventing future victims as much as possible. I don’t really think this hangs on the reputation of one man,” said Rep. Curtis Trent, (R) Missouri.
Trent is the sponsor of HB697 or Hailey’s Law, which Trent said would cut the AMBER Alert time in half.
“I’m working with the chairman of the committee, the committee members, other representative and with the mother of Hailey and working with the parents of Craig,” said Trent.
Trent said having parents of both the victim and defendant involved has been helpful.
“I find their story to be particularly compelling because he possibly could have intervened had he gotten the alert in a more timely fashion and prevented a loss of life and also prevented the charges against his own son,” Trent said.
Trent expects both Stacy Barfield and Craig Wood’s parents to be in Tuesday’s committee hearing but according to Jeff Barfield’s Facebook account, he won’t be in attendance.
“Expecting to have a little bit of testimony from members of the community who are supportive. I will testify on it answer any questions on it that the committee might have,” said Trent.
Trent doesn’t expect the committee to vote on the law then but not because of the recent indictment against Jeff Barfield.
“The committee will study the issues some more and hopefully I will get an executive hearing and it will be passed out of committee and sent to the rules committee and ultimately to the floor,” Trent said.
He said he can’t see the future but Trent’s hopeful the charges won’t cripple the passing of Hailey’s Law in any way.
“It’s about preventing future victims and trying to keep the public as safe as possible. It would be my hope that no other issues or controversies would derail that,” said Trent.
We reached out to both the Barfields and their attorney David Ransin for comments but neither responded. We’ll be in Jefferson City for the committee hearing and will post updates.