Eyewitnesses watched the man approach Hailey Owens in his vehicle, speak with her then throw her like a “rag doll” in his truck before speeding away. Three hours later, authorities with the Springfield Police Department would locate their primary suspect, Craig Michael Wood at his residence as he was pulling up in his driveway then exited his truck while holding a roll of duct tape. Craig Wood never took that roll of duct tape into his basement where the next morning, authorities would execute a search warrant and locate Hailey Owens body double bagged and stuffed inside a storage container. She had been shot in the back of her head, near the base of her skull and the medical examiner’s preliminary finding said there were what appeared to be ligature marks on her arms. Craig Wood has worked with the Springfield public school district for 16 years as a paraprofessional. Sometimes he worked as a substitute teacher. He was known for coaching 7th grade football. He is now on suspension while charged with kidnapping, first-degree-murder and armed, criminal intent.
But who was Craig Wood? Is he a serial predator? At this point, there is no understanding as to why Wood abducted Hailey Owens. Did he target her for months or was this a random act of violence? Is Craig Wood a pedophile who authorities will now uncover evidence locked away in cabinets or on his computer of sexual acts against children? Will an autopsy reveal the grim discovery that Wood sexually violated Hailey Owens before shooting her in the head? Why would a 45-year-old man abduct and murder an innocent 10-year-old girl and were their signs that he was capable of such a monstrous act?
Should a school district have some sort of foreknowledge that they have hired a monster in the midst?
While it is unclear how many of these answers will ever be known, those closest to Craig Wood who have come forth publicly reveal shock and sadness over the news. Granted, if Wood were a pedophile, he’d most likely keep that to himself and his friends and family wouldn’t be aware. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be prior allegations of sexual or violent misconduct, but the case is early and still in the investigation process.
Craig Wood was in a bluegrass band called “Uncle Fudd.” Band members as well as Craig Wood’s family members have released statements or spoken with media regarding Wood’s alleged monstrous actions. In an interview with Kansas City, former Uncle Fudd band member and friend of Wood’s Loren Morris stated, “There was never ever a side of him that would ever indicate something like this. I just can’t describe it. It’s eating all of us up.”
KSPR spoke with head of the Greater Ozarks Bluegrass Society, Casey Freeland. Freeland described the impact Wood’s arrest and charges had on the Bluegrass community as a whole. Describing the scene as music friendly, Freeland remarked that people are now more concerned about their children’s safety and well being when attending events.
“I have always encouraged my children to go out and be friendly and not be scared of the bluegrass musicians, bluegrass people, bluegrass fans. We are family orientated we are safe."
Until now. "We feel like we need to put the safety of our children first at bluegrass meetings. Not that is never was, but for something like this to happen, it's really eye opening," Freeland stated.
While many may know Craig Wood due to his music, no one could possibly know him better than his own family.
An official statement from the Uncle Fudd band reads as follows, “Uncle Fudd would like to express our deepest sympathy to the family of Hailey Owens. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this devastating time.”
Craig Wood’s parents released a statement following their son’s arrest and charges. Genie and Jim Wood stated through a family spokesperson, “They join the rest of the community in praying as their hearts pour out to the Owens family."
Craig Michael Wood made his first court appearance on Friday, February 21, 2014. At this time, he plans to enter a plea of not guilty.
Charisse Van Horn is the owner of the Amber Alerts and Missing Children Cases blog. You may see updated information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, including links to missing children’s posters by state, there. You may also follow on Facebook at Amber Alerts and Missing Children Cases: Facebook on Twitter and on Google Plus.