Thousands remember slain Missouri girl
with porch lights, vigil
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[February 24, 2014]
(Reuters) — More than 200,000
supporters vowed to keep their porch lights on through Sunday and
roughly 10,000 people joined a weekend vigil for a 10-year-old girl who
was snatched off a Missouri street and later found killed.
The outpouring of support for the family of Hailey Owens came days
after her accused killer, school coach Craig Michael Wood, said
through his lawyer that he planned to plead not guilty to charges of
murder, child abduction and armed criminal action.
Owens was kidnapped last week in Springfield, Missouri, while
walking home from a friend's house. Her body was found in a plastic
storage bin in Wood's basement with a bullet wound to her head,
About 10,000 people attended a march and candlelight vigil on
Saturday in Springfield led by Owens' family. The crowd chanted her
name during the march, which ended with a moment of silence.
A Facebook page created to honor the girl had more than 218,000
people pledging to keep their porch lights illuminated through
Sunday to show support for her family. Many neighbors joined a
series of fundraisers, from bike rides to pancake breakfasts.
Wood, 45, was a paraprofessional and 7th grade coach of boys'
football and basketball at a Springfield school, according to a
spokeswoman for the public school system.
Owens attended a different school, and there was no evidence she was
acquainted with Wood, authorities said.
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A search of Wood's home following his arrest turned up pornographic
images of young children, according to documents released by
Wood made his first court appearance on Friday over a video monitor
from the Greene County Jail. He was ordered held without bond, and a
preliminary hearing was set for April 7.
Prosecutors did not say whether he might face additional criminal
charges, including possession of child pornography.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere and Kevin Murphy;
Barbara Goldberg and Amanda Kwan)
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