Nation

Coach held after girl’s body found

ST. LOUIS — A middle-school football coach has been jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder in the abduction and death of a 10-year-old girl in southwest Missouri, police said Wednesday.

A body believed to be that of Hailey Owens was found Wednesday at a Springfield home owned by the suspect, Police Chief Paul Williams said at a press conference. Official confirmation won’t occur until after an autopsy, but the chief said police ‘‘have a high degree of confidence’’ in the preliminary identification. He did not disclose the child’s cause of death.

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Police say Craig Michael Wood, 45, is jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder but formal charges have not been filed.

Hailey was walking to a friend’s home in Springfield just before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Witnesses told investigators that a man in a gold 2008 Ford Ranger pickup truck drove down the street several times before abducting the child, who was several blocks from her home.

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Wood was arrested late Tuesday inside his truck parked outside his small, single-story home.

The Springfield School District said Wood is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher’s aide who supervises in-school suspensions at a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Hailey did not attend that school, and Williams said the two apparently didn’t know each other.

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Williams said police have no idea of a motive for the killing.

Associated Press

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