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 SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri State University plans to add more student housing by updating two buildings with strong connections to Springfield's history.
 
The university will spend $1.8 million to improve Kentwood Hall and another $1 million to renovate Sunvilla Tower.
Kentwood was built in 1926 and was once a premiere hotel, where Harry Truman and Groucho Marx stayed. The 19-story Sunvilla Tower, built in 1963, was once was one of the most sought-after apartment locations in Springfield.
 
The Springfield News-Leader reports when the renovations are complete, students who are 21 or older will be able to drink alcohol in their rooms. University officials say both buildings will be marketed to older students.
 
Published in Local News
   ST. LOUIS (AP) — Neighbors watched in horror as a 10-year-old southwest Missouri girl was snatched off the street just blocks from her home.
   Some had spotted a man in a gold Ford Ranger pickup truck driving down the road in Springfield several times before taking off with the girl, investigators said. The residents even called 911 to report the truck's license number.
   But the vehicle moved too quickly. And Hailey Owens was gone.
   Now prosecutors have charged Craig Michael Wood with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action. In filing the charges Wednesday, they alleged that the 45-year-old middle school football coach and teacher's aide abducted Hailey as she walked home from a friend's house Tuesday.
   A probable cause statement said the fourth-grader's body was found stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers in the basement of Wood's Springfield home. She had been shot in the head, according to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson.
   The basement floor was still damp from bleach, according to the probable cause statement.
   Authorities won't officially confirm that the body is Hailey's until after an autopsy, but Springfield Police Paul Williams said "we have a high degree of confidence" in the preliminary identification, which indicates that it is the girl.
   According to the probable cause statement, resident Michelle Edwards told police she and her husband were in their garage when saw a pickup truck approach the girl, who was holding a cellphone. She said the driver asked the girl for directions before he grabbed her with one hand and threw her into the truck "like a rag doll."
   Another resident, Ricky Riggins, told the Springfield News-Leader that he chased the fleeing pickup in his car after a neighbor tried to pull the girl away.
   "I couldn't keep up," Riggins said. "He was probably five to six cars ahead of me. ... It was so fast."
   Wood was inside a truck parked outside his home when police arrested him Tuesday night. The probable cause statement said he was holding a roll of duct tape when officers arrived.
   The truck is registered to Wood's father, Jim Wood, who told police he loaned the vehicle to his son. The father, who lives in nearby Ash Grove, declined an interview request from The Associated Press.
   He and the girl apparently didn't know each other. Hailey attended Westport Elementary School; Wood worked at Pleasant View School.
   "There's no connection that we've been able to determine at this time between the victim and the suspect," Williams said.
   Springfield school officials said Wood is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher's aide who supervises in-school suspensions at Pleasant View, which has students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
   Norm Ridder, the Springfield district's superintendent, said in a statement Wednesday that Wood began working for the district in August 1998. He said Wood has been suspended since his arrest.
   Wood was initially hired as a temporary employee who worked as a substitute teacher before he was hired full time in 2006, school district spokeswoman Teresa Bledsoe said later Wednesday. He has coached football at Pleasant View since 1998 and was also an assistant boys' basketball coach.
   "He met all of our qualifications for employment," Bledsoe said, noting that the Springfield district has a more rigorous background check requirement than state law, with an additional screening designed to detect substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect as well as any past criminal violations.
   Online court records show Wood had little criminal history. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 1990 in Greene County and was fined $100. Wood also was convicted in 2001 for illegal taking of wildlife, a misdemeanor.
   Williams said police have no idea of a motive for the killing. He said Wood has not talked to investigators since his arrest.
   Joe Bridges, a local music promoter who organized a candlelight vigil for Hailey scheduled for Saturday, told The Associated Press that residents in the city of 162,000 are collectively mourning the child's abduction and death.
   "The community is walking around right now with a very heavy heart," said Bridges, who described himself as a distant relative of Hailey but said he didn't know her well. "Everybody is just speechless."
Published in Local News
 SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Police say the body of a missing 10-year-old girl has been found in southwest Missouri.
Police Chief Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams says search crews found a body they believe is Hailey Owens inside a suspect's Springfield home on Wednesday.
 Witnesses told police that Hailey was taken by a man in a pickup truck Tuesday evening.
 Forty-five-year-old grade school coach Craig Michael Wood is jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder in Hailey's disappearance. Wood was arrested late Tuesday inside a vehicle parked outside his house. Formal charges have not been filed.
The Springfield School District says Wood is a coach and teacher's aide at a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Hailey did not attend that school, and Williams says the two apparently didn't know each other.
 
Published in Local News
Monday, 03 February 2014 11:18

Springfield man charged with child porn

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A western Missouri man faces a federal charge accusing him of using his cellphone to exchange pornographic messages with a teenager.
 
The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri says in a release that 49-year-old Larry Allison of Weaubleau is charged with one count of possession, receipt and production of child pornography.
 
The federal complaints says Allison is accused of sending graphic text messages, including a naked photo of himself, to the teenage girl last month until the girl's mother found out. A detective then portrayed herself as the victim in the cellphone messages and said Allison asked her sexual questions.
 
Allison's public defender didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Monday. Allison is in federal custody until his detention hearing later this week.
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A 42-year-old Springfield man is facing up to 40 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to participating in a scheme to sell thousands of counterfeit DVDs over the Internet.

Matthew Cerullo pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Springfield to mail fraud, trafficking in counterfeit labels, trafficking in counterfeit goods and making false statements to federal agents.

Prosecutors say the federal probe began after a shipment of counterfeit DVDs from Hong Kong addressed to a UPS store in Missouri was seized at JFK Airport in New York.

Cerullo told investigators he had not received a seizure notice from Customs and Border Protection, and that he does not buy DVDs. Agents who later served a search warrant found four prior seizure notices in his desk and more than 22,000 DVDs.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Springfield officials say a longtime zookeeper was killed by an elephant at the city's Dickerson Park Zoo.

City spokeswoman Cora Scott says senior zookeeper John Bradford died Friday when a female elephant charged him.

Zoo officials say Bradford worked at the zoo at least 25 years and was a senior zookeeper.

Police continue to investigate the death and further details were not immediately available.

 

Published in Local News
Monday, 08 July 2013 07:28

NRA museum to open in Bass Pro Shops

  SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - The grand opening of a new National Rifle Association museum takes place next month inside Bass Pro Shops' flagship store in southwest Missouri.

   The Springfield News-Leader reports the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum occupies about 7,500 square feet of the outdoor recreation outfitter. The Aug. 2 grand opening coincides with the start of Bass Pro Shops' Fall Hunting Classic.

   A Bass Pro announcement says the museum will have more than $20 million worth of firearms, including some from the 1600s.

   Company officials say the nearly 1,000 artifacts will include firearms used by Annie Oakley, Theodore Roosevelt and John Wayne, as well as Napoleon's double-barrel sporting flintlock.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An exhibit of drawings of fallen Illinois soldiers on display in Springfield has been extended for another month.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum announced Friday the "Portrait of a Soldier" exhibit will remain open until after July 4. The display originally was scheduled to close Friday.

The new closing date will give more visitors a chance to see the traveling display of hand-drawn portraits of Illinois soldiers killed since Sept. 11, 2001.

Artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon has drawn all the portraits. He began drawing them in August 2004.

Gov. Pat Quinn says the exhibit honors Illinois heroes. The free exhibit is at the library portion of the museum campus.

Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- A Springfield woman is suing her former landlord over a fire that killed her three children.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Violet Watson is asking in excess of $25,000 in damages in the suit filed this month in Green County.

The March 2010 fire killed 7-year-old Alexis Watson, 5-year-old Kelsey Watson and 4-year-old Devin Watson. The children's grandfather was seriously injured.

Initially, Violet Watson's then-fiance was charged with setting the fire. But the charge was dropped after laboratory tests found no trace of an accelerant. The cause of the fire is listed as undetermined.

The lawsuit says the landlords failed to maintain a safe property for the home's residents. The suit says there were smoke alarm issues and that the house had "faulty wiring."
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- Authorities say a 13-month-old girl has been found safe, hours after an Amber Alert was issued for the infant who was in a car apparently stolen from a Springfield parking lot.

< The Springfield News-Leader reports the child, Harmony Blue, was in the car with an older child when the car was taken from a store parking lot Saturday afternoon. Police say the children's father left them and the keys in the car while he was in a store and briefly chased after the car on foot.

The older child was dropped off nearby and recovered by police.

Springfield police Lt. Brian Phillips says the young girl was reunited with her family Saturday evening and the car was recovered, but he declined to release details.

There was no arrest reported.
Published in Local News
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