Craig Wood faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole after his conviction in the Feb, 2014 death of Haley Owens
A former middle school football coach from Springfield, MO. was found guilty on Thursday of snatching a 10-year-old girl from a quiet Missouri neighborhood in front of horrified witnesses and then raping and killing her on February 18, 2014.
Jurors convicted Craig Wood of first-degree murder in the death of Hailey Owens.
The jurors will hear more arguments before deciding whether to recommend the death sentence.
Springfield, Mo., police found the body of Hailey Owens, 10, inside the home of Craig Michael Wood, then 45, who had worked for the Springfield Public School District since 1998.
After the little girl was found dead inside Craig Wood’s home on Feb. 19, 2014, he was charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and kidnapping.
Prosecutors accused Wood of raping and killing fourth-grader Hailey Owens after throwing her into his pickup truck while she walked home from her best friend’s house.
Hailey Owens was murdered on Feb 18, 2014
In seeking the death penalty Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson says that Hailey’s death was “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture, or depravity of mind,” one of the legal standard required to seek death in first-degree murder cases in Missouri.
Wood’s attorney, Patrick Berrigan, didn’t dispute that Wood killed Hailey, but contended that Wood didn’t deliberate first, as prosecutors allege. Berrigan described the abduction as impulsive, saying Wood had “no disguise whatsoever.” Berrigan blamed long-suppressed sexual urges and methamphetamine.
At his arraignment Wood requested a public defender, which the judge granted, despite the revelation that he has over $1 million in a trust fund.
During the trial, witness Carlos Edwards testified he was raking leaves when he saw Wood drive past his Springfield home several times before stopping, asking Hailey for direction and then pulling the fourth-grader into his pickup truck. Edwards said he took off running but a drainage ditch at the edge of his yard stopped him from getting to the truck.
His wife called 911 and reported the truck’s license plate, which led police to Wood’s home. Hailey’s body was found in a storage container in his basement. The girl had been shot in the back of her head from close range, according to Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson.
Springfield, Mo., Police Chief Paul Williams said witnesses reported seeing a man abduct Owens Feb, 18, 2014 shortly before 5 p.m. as she was walking on W. Lombard Street in Springfield, Mo.
“They had observed a vehicle … circling the neighborhood,” Chief Williams said.
“They had also observed our victim and that at some point observed the vehicle pull up and the driver have a conversation with the young girl. She initially ignored and then came back and spoke with the driver at which time he suddenly jumped out or grabbed her and pulled her into the vehicle.
Williams said at least one witness ran after the vehicle.
Despite losing the vehicle, witnesses were able to obtain Wood’s license plate, which subsequently led officers to Wood’s home.
Victim: Hailey Owens was abducted off the street in Springfield, MO in Feb 2014. Three hours later she had been assaulted and killed
Three hours later, officers stationed outside his house observed him pull up to his home around 8:30 p.m. when they subsequently arrested him. Police said Wood refused to talk and requested a lawyer.
Executing a search warrant on Wood’s home around 2:15 a.m, officers found evidence indicating “we potentially have a body.” However, police were not able to confirm the body belonged to Hailey Owens until around 10 am the next day. The search also found child pornography and more than a dozen guns.
According to police, there is no indication that Hailey and Wood knew each other.
Child rapist and killer, Craig Wood, appears in court in Springfield, Mo., in 2014 on trial for the kidnap, rape and murder of 10-year-old Hailey Owens
Dr. Carl Stacy, the forensic pathologist who oversaw Hailey’s autopsy, testified that marks on Hailey’s arms indicated she was struggling against some type of material used to bind her.
A few jurors wiped away tears after they were shown pictures of Hailey’s body.
Patterson said police found girls’ clothing in a strip mall trash bin near Wood’s home. Surveillance footage showed Wood buying bleach and drain cleaner at a Walmart. Patterson said Wood’s clothes and bedding were found at a laundromat near Missouri State University.
Berrigan, Wood’s attorney, noted that police found handwritten stories in Wood’s bedroom dresser about sexual fantasies, two of them involving 13-year-old girls. Police also found four pictures of young girls who attended the school where Wood worked as an in-school suspension supervisor.
Wood was a 16-year football coach at a middle school in Springfield. He also worked as a substitute teacher and teacher’s aide overseeing suspensions.
Wood faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.