SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A 45-year-old grade school coach has been jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder in the abduction of a 10-year-old girl in southwest Missouri, police said Wednesday.
Hailey Owens was walking to a friend's home in Springfield just before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Witnesses told investigators that a man in a gold, 2008 Ford Ranger drove down the street several times before abducting the child.
The suspect, Craig Michael Wood, was arrested late Tuesday while inside a vehicle at his Springfield home. He has not been formally charged but police released his name.
Police spokeswoman Lisa Cox said investigators found "evidence of foul play" in the search for Hailey, but she declined to address media reports that the girl's body was found.
Springfield School District Superintendent Norm Ridder said in a statement Wednesday that Wood has worked for the district since August 1998. He is a paraprofessional and coach at Pleasant View K-8 School. Ridder said Wood has been suspended since his arrest.
Hailey did not attend the school where Wood worked. She was a student at Westport Elementary School this year, and was at Bowerman Elementary School last year.
"Student and staff at three of our schools are coping with this situation," Ridder said. Additional counselors and police were on hand at all three schools.
Cox said it appeared to be a stranger abduction.