Sunday, February 23, 2014

Timeline of Hailey Owens Tragedy: Documents, Police Statements Tell the Story

After Hailey Owens was stolen from her neighborhood ... after the Amber alert ... after the 11 p.m. newscasts ...
... Springfield held its breath.
On social media, we shared news stories, photos of Hailey, pictures of what police called the abductor’s vehicle — our concern for the missing child.
Together, we hoped for the best.
But within a few hours of trying to escape her captor, Hailey — the little fourth grader with the giant smile — was dead.
Authorities arrested and charged a man who continues to claim his innocence.
Craig Michael Wood, a $17,000-a-year teaching assistant with a minor criminal record and what police have called child pornography in his house, has been accused of first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping.
Although much of what happened since Hailey’s abduction on Tuesday remains unclear, court records and police statements give a timeline of Hailey’s final moments.

FEB. 18

4:48 p.m. Springfield police respond to the 3200 block of West Lombard Street in reference to a reported child abduction. Witnesses tell police they saw a young girl snatched from the street by a man in a truck. Witnesses tried to give chase, but the truck sped away too fast. Witnesses called 911 and tried to find the girl’s family.
5 p.m. Officers obtain preliminary information from witnesses regarding vehicle description, license plate number and the suspect’s appearance. Family identifies Hailey Owens as the missing girl.
6 p.m. The Springfield Police Department issues a news release and posts to social media information about the abduction, including the victim’s description and vehicle details. Following the protocol for issuing an Amber Alert, information is provided to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
7:07 p.m. A statewide Amber Alert is issued and information is distributed to all area law enforcement agencies and media outlets. The suspect’s description as well as the suspect’s vehicle make, model and license plate number are released to the public.
Based on the witness information about the license plate number, officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol contact the registered owner of the vehicle, Craig Michael Wood’s parents in Ash Grove. Wood’s father said the vehicle was Wood’s. Springfield officers go to Wood’s home at 1538 E. Stanford St., Springfield.
About 8:30 p.m. Wood arrives at his home in a truck matching the description and license plate number of the witnesses’ account at the abduction scene. Police doing surveillance there ask him to go to police headquarters for an interview. He is not told — and does not ask — why. At headquarters, Wood denies any involvement in the abduction. Officers note what appeared to be blood on Wood’s shirt. He does not leave police custody.
Also about 8:30 p.m. Officers do a safety sweep of Wood’s home. They note a strong smell of bleach throughout the basement, but find “no one in need of assistance,” according to Police Chief Paul Williams.
11:56 p.m. Springfield police announce a suspect is arrested and being held, but Hailey is still missing.

FEB. 19

1:28 a.m. A Greene County judge approves a search warrant for Wood’s home.
2:15 a.m. Two Springfield officers enter the home under the authority of the search warrant. They note several bleach containers throughout the home. They later write that they found a body consistent with Hailey’s size inside two garbage bags within a plastic storage tote in the basement. Authorities also find a .22 caliber bullet casing and a ball cap matching witness accounts of the suspect’s attire.
The county’s deputy medical examiner eventually responds to the scene and identifies a gunshot wound at the base of the child’s skull and ligature marks on her wrists.
3 a.m. Police inform the family of Hailey Owens that a body had been found at the suspect’s residence but cannot yet confirm who it is.
At about 3 a.m. Police go to the Dutch Maid Laundry near Elm Street and National Avenue. Authorities have acknowledged processing the scene in connection with Hailey’s case but have given no details as to why or what may have been found there.
6:30 a.m. Police publicly name Craig Michael Wood as the suspect. Records show he is held in the Greene County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder but not formally charged. Prosecutors must review police allegations against him.
8 a.m. Amber Alert canceled
11 a.m. At a news conference, Williams confirmed a body was found at the Stanford Street home and said police believe it was Owens, though an autopsy would be needed to confirm her identity and cause of death.
3:45 p.m. Authorities ask for a second search warrant for Wood’s home, looking for “papers, letters, journals, diaries, etc. documenting criminal plans, activities and/or desires.”
6 p.m. Wood is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping. At a news conference, Prosecutor Dan Patterson publicly thanks the community and law enforcement for their efforts.

FEB. 20

All day The community continues to rally to support Hailey’s family, leaving notes and gifts at the site where she was abducted. Organizers also work to set up funds for the family and a memorial event for the girl.
About 5:30 p.m. Wood’s parents issue a statement through an attorney, joining the Springfield community in their concern for the Owens family.

FEB. 21

8:30 a.m. Wood is arraigned on the three charges against him in Judge Dan Imhoff’s courtroom. First Assistant Prosecutor Todd Myers objects to Wood’s attorney being a public defender, announcing that authorities have found evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood’s name, proving he has the financial means to hire his own attorney. Imhoff rules that public defender Chris Hatley will remain Wood’s attorney until the matter can be discussed at a later date.
11 a.m. Two search warrants detailing the evidence found in Wood’s home are released to the public. They reveal that police say child pornography, multiple guns and ammunition and notebooks filled with “stories” were found in the home.

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