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Hailey was killed last night.

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I have to step out of my reporter persona and talk as I would to friends. This will not be an impartial story, but one of personal anguish and grief. The Amber Alert went out last night and when I first heard of it, I did not realize who Hailey Owens was. The reports of her kidnapping came across the television and as with most child abductions I hear about, I stopped and prayed for the safe return of this little girl.

As the evening went on it became apparent that I should know who this girl was. She had attended our church on Wednesday nights for a weekly children’s program. The children would come in for our fellowship dinner and if their parents were not there, we adults would have them sit with our families.

Daughter Michelle is a teacher at the local school and is familiar to most of the children that attend the school. Hailey was a quiet, timid child and would often find a place at the table with my wife and I and our daughter’s family. Because she was such a well behaved and quiet girl she did not stand out in my memory.

The picture with this article is the one that I saw this morning after I heard the report that her body had been found near where she was allegedly taken. My heart broke when I saw these pictures. I remembered her and regretted not getting to know her more.

Life on this world is short, but these kinds of tragedies remind us that our sinful state can reduce that time even more. We grieve with Hailey’s family and hope they will understand how much we loved this shy, sweet girl. Our lives are better for knowing her and less for this tragedy.

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