Springfield community remembers Hailey Owens eight years after tragedy

Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 5:52 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2022 at 8:06 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Friday marks eight years since a tragedy that shook the Springfield community and sparked changes in Missouri’s AMBER Alert system.

Eight years have passed since the kidnapping, assault and murder of Springfield girl Hailey Owens. This year, she would have turned 19 years old.

“It’s really hard for me to call today an anniversary, which normally is something to be celebrated,” said David Ransin, an attorney representing Hailey’s parents.

Investigators say Craig Wood kidnapped the 10-year-old girl in broad daylight as she walked down a Springfield street before raping and killing her.

“If you ask us what’s the most difficult case we’ve had to deal with, this one is the one that comes to mind immediately,” said Springfield Police Major Tad Peters.

Peters remembers getting the call like it was yesterday. He was the lieutenant responsible for the investigation of Hailey’s case.

“This is one that’s always going to be very fresh and clear in my mind long after retirement,” said Peters. “If it hadn’t been for the witnesses that called in with the license plate number, this would have been a much more difficult case to solve,” said Peters.

At the time of Owens’ death, it took several steps before an AMBER Alert could go out. Three years ago, Hailey’s Law changed that to save time by streamlining the alert process. Peters said the operations of the Springfield Police Department changed too since the tragedy.

“We reviewed our process on what we can improve on our response and timing of getting information out,” said Peters. “If we had a case like this right now, we would be sending information out immediately.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol would be responsible for sending out an AMBER Alert in a situation similar to the Owens case. MSHP could send the alert quickly after receiving a missing child report from police if certain criteria are met.

“We would start that process and get it moving forward,” said Peters. “We would be immediately sending stuff out to the local media, the public, social media.”

David Ransin was the attorney representing her parents in court. He wants Feb. 18, 2014 to be remembered as a reminder.

“Hailey’s case was the ultimate form of child abuse,” said Ransin. “All remain vigilant to identify the abuse and protect children everywhere. If you see something, say something. Don’t keep it to yourself.”

Hailey’s killer, Craig Wood, is on death row at the Potosi Correctional Center. His home, where the crime took place, has since been demolished. It now serves as a community garden.

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