Wood, Owens families look to continue strengthening Amber Alert laws after Hailey's Law signed in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- With a stroke of his pen, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed "Hailey's Law" into law.

Markus Owens (left) and Jim Wood (right) stand in the Governor's Office as Governor Mike Parson signs "Hailey's Law" on 7/11/2019

"Alright. Well, let's help these kids," Parson said.

"It feels very confusing. It feels like a piece has been closed, a chapter has been closed. But now, there's a whole 'nother chapter being opened," said Markus Owens, Hailey Owens' father.

Owens stood behind Parson as he signed the bill named after his daughter into law. Hailey Owens was abducted, raped, and killed by Craig Wood, the son of the man Markus stood next to.

"We've spoken and worked together for this bill. I like Jim," Owens said. "He's a very good man, and he's put a lot of work into this himself."

On a February 2014 afternoon, Hailey Owens was walking just a block from her home when a man stopped and asked for directions. He got out of the car, grabbed Hailey, and took off.

After learning what his son had done, Jim Wood knew he had to do something to make sure something else like that didn't happen to anyone else.

"I felt that the best way to deal with my particular grief and to deal in a positive way was to reach out to the Owens family to see what could we do to make things better," Wood said.

So, Wood and Owens worked with lawmakers to make it easier for police to access the Amber Alert System.

Under Hailey's Law, police will now be able to access the system electronically, without having to fill out paperwork to send to the Highway Patrol.

Lawmakers say eliminating the paperwork will save them precious time in an abduction situation.

The law will also require the Amber Alert System Oversight Committee, which already exists in Missouri, to meet at least once a year to discuss improvements to the Amber Alert system.

Wood and Owens say the plan now that Hailey's Law is signed is to work with other states in fixing the Amber Alert system.

"We have a common goal and he and I are both going to continue seeing how we can expand Hailey's Law in Missouri across the nation if we can," Wood said.

All of the bills signed by Governor Parson will go into effect at the end of August.