Friday, February 17, 2017

From 2014 as third anniversary approaches: Probable cause statement in death of Hailey Owens

(The following is reprinted from the February 19, 2014 Turner Report)

Ten-year-old Hailey Owens was shot in the base of the skull and stuffed in two trash bags, according to a probable cause statement written today by Detective Neal McAmis of the Springfield Police Department.

Officers found the child's body in the basement of the home of Craig Michael Wood, 45, a in-school suspension teacher and coach at Pleasant View Middle School and coach in Springfield.

Wood has been charged with murder in the first degree, kidnapping, and armed criminal action.

The probable cause statement is printed below:

On 2-18-2014 at 1648, officers were sent to 3247 W. Lombard about an abduction that had just occurred. Officer Castaneda arrived on scene and talked to two eyewitnesses, Carlos and Michelle Edwards. Officer Castaneda got preliminary statements from them, and they were transported to police headquarters for further interviews.

I interviewed Michelle. She told me she was in her garage, with the garage door open, talking with Carlos. Michelle said she saw a young girl walk westbound on Lombard on the north side of the road. She said the female had a cell phone in her hands. Michelle said a tan Ford Ranger drove eastbound on Lombard, drove into the westbound lane of travel and pulled up next to the girl.

Michelle told me she heard the male subject ask the girl where Springfield Street was. Michelle said the girl turned to walk away from the vehicle. She said it was at that time when the male opened the driver's door and said to the girl, "Hey, come here a minute." Michelle said the male extended his hand out the door and motioned for the girl to come to him. Michelle told me the girl took one or two steps closer to the truck. She said the male lunged out of the vehicle, grabbed the girl with his left hand and threw her into the truck "like a rag doll." Michelle said the suspect then fled the area at a very high rate of speed.

Michelle gave me a suspect description. She said he was a white male that had a baseball-style hat on. She said he had grey hair that came out from under the hat. Michelle told me the suspect possibly had facial hair or a beard. She said he appeared to be 45-55 years of age. She said the suspect appeared to be a "taller" individual and she said he had a thin to medium build.

Michelle told me she was also able to get a license plate number from the suspect vehicle. She was adamant the license plate number was 1YF454. She told me she was positive that was the license plate number.

Detective Barb interviewed Carlos. Carlos' story matched that of Michelle's. Carlos also gave a detailed description of the suspect. Carlos said the suspect was a white male that appeared to be in his early to mid 40s. He said the subject had grey hair and was wearing a baseball style hat. He described the suspect as being unshaven, with grey in his facial hair.

Preliminary investigation revealed the victim was Hailey Owens. Owens was only 10 years old. Owens lived about a block from where the abduction occurred. It was believed Owens was walking home from a friend's house.

The license plate number that Michelle provided had been researched by department personnel. That license plate checked to a 2008 Ford pickup to Jim and Regina Wood. Their address was listed as being in Ash Grove. I was informed officers responded to that location and contacted Jim. Jim informed the officers that his son, Craig Wood, was the person who drove that vehicle.

Information was researched about Craig. Craig's description matched that of the suspect and Craig is 45 years old. Craig's address was found to be 1538 E. Stanford.

Sgt. Neal and Sgt. Schwind responded to the area of Craig's residence. Shortly after they arrived, they saw a tan Ford Ranger pull into Craig's driveway. The license plate on the vehicle matched the license plate number that Michelle previously provided. Sgt. Neal and Sgt. Schwind approached Craig as he exited his truck. Sgt. Neil and Sgt. Schwind saw that Craig had a roll of duct tape in his hand as he exited the driver's side door. When Craig saw the officers, he threw the duct tape into the bed of the truck.

Craig agreed to respond to police headquarters for an interview. It was at headquarters where I first saw Craig. Craig appeared just as Michelle and Carlos described the suspect. Craig was tall (6-2) and had a medium build. He had on a baseball-style hat. It could see his grey hair from under the hat. Craig had an unshaven appearance and there was grey in his facial hair.

Detective Kevin Shipley interviewed him at headquarters. Craig initially told Detective Shipley that he got off work (Pleasant View Middle School) about 1515 and went straight home. He later changed his story and said he went driving around for a while. Craig denied having contact with Owens.

Officers did a safety sweep at Craig's residence to check for Owens. When the officers got to the basement steps, they could smell a strong odor of bleach. The odor continued as they entered the basement. The officers informed me the basement floor was wet. They also said they saw bottles of bleach in the basement.

On 2-19-14 at 0128 Detective Barb obtained a signed search warrant to search Craig's residence. Several crime scene technicians responded to the scene. In the basement, the crime scene technicians located two plastic storage totes. They were stacked one on top of the other. There were papers and documents in the top tote. In the bottom tote was what appeared to be the body of a small child. The body was concealed inside two trash bags. The crime scene technicians removed the trash bags and confirmed it was the body of Owens.

Tom Van De Berg, the chief investigator for the Greene County Medical Examiner's office responded to the scene. I contacted Van De Berg at that location. He informed me Owens had what appeared to be a gunshot wound at the base of her skull. He said there were also apparent ligature marks on Owens' arms.

The crime scene investigator continued to process the crime scene. They located a spent .22 caliber shell casing in the basement.

Craig Michael Wood's trial is scheduled to begin October 23. He is charged with first degree murder, armed criminal action, kidnapping, first degree rape, and sodomy



Two children. Two murders. Two communities (Stella and Carthage, Missouri) changed forever. Lost Angels; The Murders of Rowan Ford and Doug Ringler is available in paperback and e-book formats at Amazon. Signed copies can be purchased at Always Buying Books and Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin, Pat's Books in Carthage and Granby Auto Supply and Hardware in Granby.

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