Death of Hailey Owens
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Hailey Owens (August 18, 2003 – February 18, 2014) was a 10-year-old girl from Springfield, Missouri, who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered on February 18, 2014. The killing caught attention nationally and was discussed on Nancy Grace. Thousands of people attended a candlelight vigil for Hailey on February 23, 2014. A neighborhood park was later dedicated to her called Hailey's Playground.
Abduction, rape and murder
At about 5:00 p.m. on February 18, 2014, Hailey was walking home from a friend's house when a man in a truck pulled over, called to her and asked for directions and, as she approached him, grabbed her, threw her into his truck and sped away. Michelle and Carlos Edwards were talking in their garage when they saw the truck pull up and the driver grab Hailey. Michelle wrote down the license plate number and Carlos ran after the truck while another neighbor jumped in a vehicle and followed until the truck eluded him.
As Michelle called 911, Carlos knocked on doors trying to find the girl’s parents, the search warrant application said. He described the girl to a boy who said it sounded like his sister and took Carlos to his home to talk with his mother.
Hailey's body was found in Wood's home in Springfield. It was inside two garbage bags within plastic storage containers located in the basement of the house. She had been raped and shot in the back of the head. There were marks on her wrists indicating that, at some point, she had been tied up.
The suspect in the murder was Craig Michael Wood. He was 49 years old at the time of his conviction. Wood once worked in Springfield as a paraprofessional worker and worked for 16 years as a school football coach at Pleasant View Middle School He also worked there supervising suspensions and as a teacher's aide and substitute teacher.
Police found over a dozen firearms in his home as well as child pornography. While searching a bedroom dresser in Wood's home, they discovered stories about sexual fantasies. Two of these handwritten stories involved girls aged 13. Also found were four pictures of young, female students who attended the school where Wood been employed.
Wood had a criminal record. In 1990, he pleaded guilty and was fined $100 after being found in possession of a controlled substance. In 2001, he was convicted of the misdemeanour of taking wildlife illegally.
Wood's friends report him as having never married or having children, and an amatuer bluegrass musician.
Trial and verdict
Wood's trial began October 30, 2017, and prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty, against the wishes of the victim's family.  The defense was that the crimes were committed by Wood, but were not premeditated.
On November 2, 2017, the jury found Craig Wood guilty of first-degree murder. The same jury could not agree on a unanimous verdict for the death penalty for Wood, leaving the judge to decide on the sentence.
On January 11, 2018 Judge Thomas Mountjoy sentenced Craig Wood to death by lethal injection. Despite having initially opposed the state's decision to seek the death penalty, Owens' mother, Stacy Herman, expressed support for Wood's death sentence, stating that Wood "got what he deserved".
A candlelight vigil was organized a few days after Hailey Owens' abduction. Thousands of people marched in the city, ending at a footbridge decorated with purple lights, Hailey's favorite color.
A neighborhood park named Hailey's Playground was dedicated to her.
Proposed 'Hailey's Law'
Hailey Owens' family, joined by the family of Craig Wood, is lobbying for Hailey's Law, which would consolidate the systems in which an Amber Alert is issued, allowing an alert to be issued faster by local police.
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- 41 Action News. "Craig Michael Wood charged with murder, abduction of Springfield girl". KSHB. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014.
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