JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KPLR) – It has now been three years since prosecutors charged Craig Wood with the kidnap and murder of 10-year-old Hailey Owens in Springfield. On Tuesday, Wood’s parents and Owens’ family sat next to each other in a hearing at the state capitol, an unusual alliance formed in an effort to change Missouri’s Amber Alert System.
Craig Wood’s parents and Hailey’s mother were in Jefferson City to speak up for Hailey’s Law, a proposal to speed up the issuance of Amber alerts. Hailey’s Law would integrate the Amber Alert System with two other law enforcement computer systems, which would allow officers to enter the information digitally.
It took more than two hours for an amber alert to be issued when Hailey was kidnapped. Although Craig Wood has yet to stand trial, his father, Jim, believes his son is responsible.
Jim Wood said he owned the truck Craig drove and was near his son’s house that day. Wood said if he saw an Amber Alert with the license plate number sooner, he may have been able to intervene and save Hailey Owens’ life.
“It took me awhile to make up my mind, to reach out to (Hailey’s) family and say, ‘You know I’m here. I’m here to support or prayers or whatever you need.’ And the response was remarkable,” Wood said.
Hailey Owens’ mother and stepfather have been active in pushing Hailey’s Law the last three legislative sessions, but her stepfather, Jeff Barfield, was recently indicted by a federal grand jury on child porn charges last week.
Barfield was not in the room Tuesday, but the Wood family is still hopeful they can persuade the legislature to pass the bill this year.