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Thursday, 24 April 2014 12:47

Craig Michael Wood pleads not guilty

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A southwest Missouri youth football coach accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a 10-year-old girl has pleaded not guilty
 
Forty-six-year-old Craig Michael Wood appeared Thursday in Greene County Circuit Court in Springfield. A preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday was delayed until May 22.
 
Wood is accused of abducted Hailey Owens while she walked home from her best friend's house, just two blocks from her own home.  Shocked neighbors reported watching the abduction and unsuccessfully giving chase as Hailey was pulled into a pickup truck that sped away. She was found dead hours later in the basement of Wood's home.
 
The Springfield News-Leader reports that the judge granted a request made by prosecutors earlier this week to add rape and sodomy charges in response to recently released autopsy results.
 
Published in Local News

   Two people are facing charges and third is still at large in a kidnapping and robbery on the campus of SIU-Edwardsville.  At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, campus police said the victim had been set up by a friend.  

   Two other SIU-E students, 18 year old Jabreel Watson and 20 year old Shantel Rogers are charged with felony kidnapping, armed robbery and burglary.  Police say they are still looking for a third suspect, an unidentified male.  

   On April 2nd an SIU-E student had reported being set upon outside his residence hall.  He reported being forced into a car at gunpoint, driven to an ATM and forced to withdraw cash.  He wasn't injured.  

   Police are hoping surveillance video from the ATM's camera will help in their search for the third suspect.

Published in Local News
The Chesterfield Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating two suspects from a robbery and kidnapping which occurred about 5 p.m. on Friday.
 
Police say two female suspects were confronted by security during a shoplifting incident at the H&M store at Chesterfield Mall.  
Suspect Cierra Baker, along with an unknown female, attempted to leave the store with stolen merchandise and when confronted, Baker reached into her purse, grabbed a can of mace, and sprayed the security guard before fleeing.
 
The two subjects then separated, with Baker carjacking a woman from the  parking lot.  Baker threatened the woman and forced her to drive from Chesterfield Mall to Big Bend and I-64.  
There, the suspect was picked up in a white car with tinted windows.  The victim was not harmed.  
 
Anyone who may know the whereabouts of Cierra Baker or who may have information about this incident or the second suspect, is asked to contact the Chesterfield Detective Bureau or St. Louis Crime Stoppers at 314-725-8477 (TIPS). 
Published in Local News
St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - Hailey Owens was abducted and murdered in Springfield, Missouri last month.
 
Now her parents are suing Craig Michael Wood, the man accused of killing young Hailey. Stacey Barfield and Markus Owens filed a wrongful death lawsuit last week. The lawsuit seeks damages to cover the costs connected to Hailey's death as well as punitive damages.
 
Wood has been charged with first degree murder, armed criminal action, and child kidnapping. 
 
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - The lawyer for a middle-school football coach who's accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old girl in Missouri says Craig Wood is planning to plead not guilty. The public defender's announcement came during a brief hearing today.
 
Wood is accused of snatching Hailey Owens as she walked home from a friend's house Tuesday evening in Springfield. Court records indicate her body was found in Wood's basement. Prosecutors say she was shot in the back of the head and that she had ligature marks on her wrists, suggesting she was tied up.
 
Public defender Chris Hatley said Wood plans to contest the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action.
 
Wood appeared by video from a jail where he is being held without bond. He spoke only briefly to answer several questions from the judge. Hailey's parents, older brother and five other family members attended the hearing.
 
A prosecutor challenged Wood's use of a public defender, saying police found evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood's name. He said, "I think he can afford his own attorney." The defense attorney replied that "it's frankly none of his business." The judge said he would consider the matter.
Published in Local News
   ST. LOUIS (AP) — Neighbors watched in horror as a 10-year-old southwest Missouri girl was snatched off the street just blocks from her home.
   Some had spotted a man in a gold Ford Ranger pickup truck driving down the road in Springfield several times before taking off with the girl, investigators said. The residents even called 911 to report the truck's license number.
   But the vehicle moved too quickly. And Hailey Owens was gone.
   Now prosecutors have charged Craig Michael Wood with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action. In filing the charges Wednesday, they alleged that the 45-year-old middle school football coach and teacher's aide abducted Hailey as she walked home from a friend's house Tuesday.
   A probable cause statement said the fourth-grader's body was found stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers in the basement of Wood's Springfield home. She had been shot in the head, according to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson.
   The basement floor was still damp from bleach, according to the probable cause statement.
   Authorities won't officially confirm that the body is Hailey's until after an autopsy, but Springfield Police Paul Williams said "we have a high degree of confidence" in the preliminary identification, which indicates that it is the girl.
   According to the probable cause statement, resident Michelle Edwards told police she and her husband were in their garage when saw a pickup truck approach the girl, who was holding a cellphone. She said the driver asked the girl for directions before he grabbed her with one hand and threw her into the truck "like a rag doll."
   Another resident, Ricky Riggins, told the Springfield News-Leader that he chased the fleeing pickup in his car after a neighbor tried to pull the girl away.
   "I couldn't keep up," Riggins said. "He was probably five to six cars ahead of me. ... It was so fast."
   Wood was inside a truck parked outside his home when police arrested him Tuesday night. The probable cause statement said he was holding a roll of duct tape when officers arrived.
   The truck is registered to Wood's father, Jim Wood, who told police he loaned the vehicle to his son. The father, who lives in nearby Ash Grove, declined an interview request from The Associated Press.
   He and the girl apparently didn't know each other. Hailey attended Westport Elementary School; Wood worked at Pleasant View School.
   "There's no connection that we've been able to determine at this time between the victim and the suspect," Williams said.
   Springfield school officials said Wood is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher's aide who supervises in-school suspensions at Pleasant View, which has students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
   Norm Ridder, the Springfield district's superintendent, said in a statement Wednesday that Wood began working for the district in August 1998. He said Wood has been suspended since his arrest.
   Wood was initially hired as a temporary employee who worked as a substitute teacher before he was hired full time in 2006, school district spokeswoman Teresa Bledsoe said later Wednesday. He has coached football at Pleasant View since 1998 and was also an assistant boys' basketball coach.
   "He met all of our qualifications for employment," Bledsoe said, noting that the Springfield district has a more rigorous background check requirement than state law, with an additional screening designed to detect substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect as well as any past criminal violations.
   Online court records show Wood had little criminal history. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 1990 in Greene County and was fined $100. Wood also was convicted in 2001 for illegal taking of wildlife, a misdemeanor.
   Williams said police have no idea of a motive for the killing. He said Wood has not talked to investigators since his arrest.
   Joe Bridges, a local music promoter who organized a candlelight vigil for Hailey scheduled for Saturday, told The Associated Press that residents in the city of 162,000 are collectively mourning the child's abduction and death.
   "The community is walking around right now with a very heavy heart," said Bridges, who described himself as a distant relative of Hailey but said he didn't know her well. "Everybody is just speechless."
Published in Local News

   ELKHART, In. (ABC) - A convicted quadruple-murderer is on the loose this morning after escaping from custody in Michigan and abducting a woman, corrections officials confirmed to ABC News.

   Officials say Michael David Elliot escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility Sunday before driving to Indiana.

   Elliot abducted a woman with a knife or box cutter before driving with her to Elkhart, In. - about 130 miles south - where they stopped for gas, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said. While the woman was able to escape, Elliot remains at large.

   There’s no word on how he was able to escape from custody.

   Michigan State Police Lt. Troy Allen said officials are looking for the woman's red 2004 Jeep Liberty four-door. The license plate number is 5FTG55. Officials plan on meeting with the woman to find out more information about the incident.

   Elliot, 40, has brown eyes and brown hair, stands 5’8” and weighs 165 pounds, according to Department of Corrections records.

   He was convicted of murdering four people on Aug. 8, 1993 and is serving four life sentences.

Published in National News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - A St. Louis man is in custody, accused of holding a woman captive for three months and repeatedly sexually assaulting her.

The Post-Dispatch reports that Clifton Wilkes is charged with sodomy, kidnapping, rape, assault, and several misdemeanors.

Police say that the victim went to Wilkes' apartment on October 15. She told investigators that she woke up the next day in his bedroom. She was missing her pants and the door to the room was locked. The victim says that over the next three months she was raped, choked, and punched. She was beaten so severely that she lost a tooth.

The Post-Dispatch reports that the victim was able to escape the house on Wednesday. She ran to a neighbor's home for help, but Wilkes broke in and took her back to his apartment. 

Wilkes is now held on a $500,000 bond.

Published in Local News

   A Jefferson City boy and the St. Louis man charged with kidnapping him are both dead after an apparent murder-suicide.  The bodies of six year old Markell Beasley and 40 year old Demetrius Beasley were found shot to death Tuesday night at a home in Cape Girardeau. Police are still investigating, but say it appears the man shot the child and then turned the gun on himself.

   Police say Demetrius Beasley wasn't the boy's biological father, but had had a relationship with the child's mother.  She told police she had allowed her son to travel to St. Louis from Jefferson City on Saturday for a Christmas gathering with Demetrius Beasley's family. But the mother said she later learned there was no gathering and that Beasley didn't intend to return her son.  

   Police had charged the St. Louis man with kidnapping Tuesday morning.

Published in Local News

A mother and father are on the run after police say they kidnapped their children from foster care.

St. Charles police say the pair took 1-year-old Trevion Dunn and 2-year-old Aleiyah Dunn sometime between Friday and Monday. Police believe they were taken by their mother, Cierra Dunn. Aleiyah's father, Jose Sanchez, might also be involved in the kidnapping.

They were last seen driving a 1998 Chevy Malibu with Missouri plates MK2-C0S. Police say they could be headed to Wisconsin or Mexico. The kids are in protective custody as part of an investigation into neglect issues. The parents had weekend visitation and officials could not contact them on Monday.

Anyone who believes they have seen the children are asked to contact the St. Charles Police Department at 636-949-3320.

Published in Local News
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