Child porn found in home of coach charged in abduction, murder of girl
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A police search of the southwest Missouri home of a middle-school football coach accused in a 10-year-old girl's kidnapping and death found child pornography and more than a dozen guns, according to search warrants released on Friday.
Officers retrieved a three-ring binder containing pornographic photos of young children at the home of Craig Michael Wood, the documents released by Springfield police say. Investigators seized computers, cameras, 30 video recordings, handwritten journals, a spent .22-caliber shell casing and a hat believed to have been worn by fourth-grader Hailey Owens.
Wood is accused of snatching Hailey as she walked home from her best friend's house this week, just 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.
At a brief hearing on Friday, Wood's lawyer said he plans to plead not guilty. Wood appeared via video from the Greene County 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.
Court records released earlier as well as the search warrants indicate her body was found in Wood's basement, stuffed into trash bags and plastic containers. Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said Hailey was shot in the back of the head and had ligature marks on her wrists, suggesting she was tied up. A preliminary autopsy is complete but won't be released publicly because the criminal case remains open, according to the county medical examiner's office.
Patterson said he is considering whether to seek the death penalty.
At the arraignment, public defender Chris Hatley said Wood plans to contest the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action.
Assistant prosecutor Todd Myers challenged Wood's use of a public defender after he said police found evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood's name. The source of that income is not clear: Wood's father and an attorney representing the suspect's parents did not return telephone calls seeking comment on Friday.
“I think he can afford his own attorney,” Myers said.
Hatley replied that he appreciated the prosecutor's concern for Wood's rights but that “it's frankly none of his business.”
Circuit Judge Dan Imhof said he would consider the matter. He scheduled a follow-up court appearance in March and a preliminary hearing in April.
Wood was a 16-year football coach at a middle school in Springfield, about 160 miles southeast of Kansas City. He also worked as a substitute teacher and teacher's aide overseeing suspensions.
Police said they found Wood holding duct tape as he left his father's pickup truck parked outside his home Tuesday night, just hours after Hailey went missing. Court records indicate the floor of the basement where the girl's body was found was still damp with bleach — presumably used to clean the crime scene.
Wood had little criminal history, according to online court records. 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. Friends said Wood is an amateur bluegrass musician and hunter who never married or had children and whose parents raised show horses.
Those who knew Hailey recalled a child who loved to laugh, smile and dance. Thousands are expected to attend a candlelight vigil in her honor Saturday night.
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