Chanting her name and wearing her favorite colors of pink and purple, a flag-waving crowd gathered outside the funeral of a 10-year-old southwest Missouri girl who was abducted and killed last week.
The funeral for Hailey Owens was held Wednesday afternoon at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield. The fourth-grader was killed Feb. 18 after being abducted in her neighborhood.
Craig Michael Wood, 45, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action in her death. The middle school football coach is being held without bond in the Greene County jail.
The Springfield News-Leader reported Wednesday that about 100 people formed a human wall outside the church’s entrance. Funeral organizers said they hoped the service would celebrate Hailey’s life. The family asked that reporters not attend the funeral or a Tuesday night visitation.
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Hailey’s family said she was an outgoing tomboy who also loved to dress up.
“She was an absolute ray of sunshine,” said Erin Petersen, the girl’s aunt.
Wood is accused of abducting Hailey as she walked home from her best friend’s house, less than two blocks from her own home. Neighbors said they watched in horror and unsuccessfully gave chase as Hailey was pulled into a pickup truck that sped away. A police search of Wood’s Springfield home found child pornography and more than a dozen guns, according to court filings.
Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said he is considering pursuing the death penalty for Wood.
Wood was a 16-year football coach at a Springfield middle school. He also worked as a substitute teacher and teacher’s aide overseeing suspensions.