Springfield police find guns and child pornography inside suspect’s home

Craig Michael Wood
Craig Michael Wood

Inside the home of a man suspected of kidnapping and killing a Springfield girl, authorities found a slew of guns, jugs of bleach and a binder of child pornography.

Search warrant results also reveal that Craig Michael Wood, 45, had a laptop computer and video camera in his living room and a large revolver in a holster on a table nearby. In a bedroom, investigators found a bed with its sheets removed and what appeared to be unknown stains on the mattress and pillows.

Officers found multiple guns, including a shotgun, in his bedroom. And they found stories written on notebook paper.

The warrants did not indicate what the stories were about or what, if anything, was on the laptop and video camera.

The Star obtained the new court documents Friday, a few hours after Wood appeared in court via video link for the first time. He is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action in the death of Hailey Owens, a 10-year-old girl abducted Tuesday near her home.

Wood — a teacher’s aide and middle school football coach for the Springfield school district — requested a public defender, which prosecutors balked at after revealing they had seen evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood’s name. The judge said he would consider that argument later. On Friday, public defender Christopher Hatley represented Wood, who is scheduled to be back in court March 19 and face a preliminary hearing April 7.

Residents of the Springfield area wore pink and purple Friday in honor of Hailey. Thousands are expected at a march Saturday evening in her memory. Many are holding fundraisers and collecting money to help her family pay for the funeral of the girl, who was known for helping classmates.

“I’m getting a lot of responses from people who are really, really wanting to join as a community,” said Joe Bridges, an organizer of the march scheduled on Springfield’s Commercial Street. “At times I sit here and I’m just speechless to see a community come together like this. It touches my heart and restores my faith.”

Hailey was walking in the 3200 block of West Lombard Street just before 5 p.m. Tuesday when witnesses saw a gold Ford Ranger pull up near her. According to court documents, the driver asked the fourth-grader a question before opening the door of his truck, grabbing her and speeding away.

More details of what officers learned and found a few hours after they confronted Wood in his driveway Tuesday evening came out in the new court documents Friday. After Wood — observed with what appeared to be blood on his T-shirt and a strong odor of bleach — was transported to a police station for questioning, officers went inside his home.

Investigators discovered two blue storage containers, one stacked on top of the other. Inside the larger container, detectives observed what appeared to be a small body concealed with black trash bags.

They saw what appeared to be blood pooling in the bottom of the container.

Hailey had been shot in the back of the head. Ligature marks were visible on her arms near the wrists. A spent .22-caliber shell casing was on the basement floor. But police were looking for more.

“Based on training and experience, I know subjects who abduct small children often assault or sexually assault the victim(s),” Cpl. Chris Barb of the Springfield Police Department wrote in an application for a judge’s permission to search Wood’s home. “I know that suspects who commit various crimes often research how to commit the crime(s), cover up … or dispose of evidence of the crime(s) via use of the internet.”

The search warrant application, filed with the results, provided new details on others who tried to save Hailey.

Michelle and Carlos Edwards were talking in their garage when they saw the truck pull up and the driver grab Hailey. Michelle wrote down the license plate number and Carlos ran after the truck while another neighbor jumped in a vehicle and followed until the truck eluded him.

As Michelle called 911, Carlos knocked on doors trying to find the girl’s parents, the search warrant application said. He described the girl to a boy who said it sounded like his sister and took Carlos to his home to talk with his mom.

Three-quarters of abducted children who are slain are killed in the first three hours, studies say. More than two-thirds of child abduction murders involve a sexual motive, according to a 2006 study conducted by the Department of Justice and the state attorney general for Washington.

Investigators executing the search warrant earlier this week looked for material that would provide them possible insight into Wood’s sexual fantasies.

“They are going to look at whether he was focused on little kids. If so, is he focused on a specific gender?” said Mary Ellen O’Toole, a retired FBI profiler.

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