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UPDATE: Crowd gathers outside funeral for slain 10-year-old girl

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | 5:16 p.m. CST

SPRINGFIELD — A flag-waving crowd gathered outside the funeral of a 10-year-old southwest Missouri girl who was abducted and killed last week, chanting her name and wearing her favorite colors of pink and purple.

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 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.

Hailey's family said she was an outgoing fourth-grader who was a tomboy but also loved to dress up. An estimated 10,000 people attended a weekend candlelight vigil in her honor.

"She was an absolute ray of sunshine," said Erin Petersen, the girl's aunt.

Wood is accused of snatching 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 search warrants.

Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said he's 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.

 


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