On February 18, 2014, 10-year-old Hailey Owens was walking just a few blocks from her home in Springfield, Missouri. Witnesses saw someone pull the girl into a truck just before 5 p.m. Family and neighbors said news of the abduction was on social and broadcast media almost immediately. But, an official AMBER alert from police took much longer.
"It was late in my eyes,” said Owens’ mother, Stacey Barfield. “I mean, everybody's like what's going on? Even my phone went off, and I'm like, 'Seriously? This is like two hours after she got abducted.’”
Police found Owens later that night. Investigators said she had been shot to death, and they discovered her body in the home of Craig Michael Wood.
Police said the AMBER alert process is time-consuming. Jeff Barfield, Owens’ stepfather, told Springfield’s KY3-TV the delay is a problem that missing children just cannot live with.
"We don't blame law enforcement. They did the best that they could with what was in place at the time. So, what we need to do is we need to focus on what law enforcement has to deal with to make it a better system."
Attorney Stoney McCleery is pushing for legislation that would streamline the AMBER alert process. He would like to see the process more automated. He thinks his plan would knock 30 minutes off paperwork time and get alerts out more quickly.
As for Wood, he is now facing a growing list of charges including murder, rape and sodomy.
To see a copy of the bill, visit Facebook and the Hailey’s Law Community Page.