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Hailey Owens' Mother Reacts to Daughter's Death; Murder Suspect Passed School Background Checks

In Springfield, Missouri, the mother of 10-year-old Hailey Owens struggles to understand what happened to her daughter.
SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI -- The mother of 10-year-old Hailey Owens struggles to understand what happened to her daughter. "I've seen people on the news all the time about missing kids, and never thought it was going to happen to me," Stacey Owens said. Hailey was on her way to see her best friend at school, halfway between their homes, when she was kidnapped. It was the one day Stacy did not go with her. "It's nice day, she's meeting you, and nothing's going to happen... I guess I shouldn'tve let my guard down." Police arrested Craig Wood, a Springfield public school employee. He now faces charges of first-degree murder.

Wood has worked for the Springfield school district since 1998, most recently as a paraprofessional and football coach. Now, people are asking how wood could be employed by the district for 15 years without a single red flag. According to the district, he passed all background checks. However, drug tests are excluded from the hiring of paraprofessionals, and online court documents reveal Wood pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 1998. "If we had any info that this person could've been a danger to anyone in the school community, they're not somebody we would've employed," said Parker McKenna with Springfield schools.

Even with policies in place, many parents and grandparents worry that what happened to Hailey Owens could happen again, and they say there is an important lesson to learn from this tragedy. "Getting the young girls to open up and come to the parents, not necessarily the school leaders but the parents. The parents are the ones who need to go to the schools and tell the schools about it," Bob Bingham, who's grandchildren go to the school where Wood works, said. The district says it's working closely with law enforcement and cooperating with the investigation.

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