No connection between Hailey Owens stepdad and her accused killer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. After the stepfather of a murdered 10-year-old girl was charged with handling child pornography, some people wonder if there was a connection between the stepfather and the accused killer. A spokesman for the Springfield Police Department said Monday that detectives thoroughly looked for connections between accused murderer Craig Wood and Hailey Owens’ entire family, but found none.

Jeffrey Barfield, 38, of Springfield, indicted by a federal grand jury for charges of sexual exploitation of a minor.

A federal grand jury last week indicted Jeffrey Barfield for handling child pornography. No details are available about what investigators believe Barfield did, so it’s not possible to say whether Hailey Owens might have been a victim of Barfield.

The indictment says the child porn crimes happened between 2012 and 2016. Hailey was killed in 2014. That means Hailey was alive and in the same household as her stepdad for two years prior to her death. Court records do not say whether Hailey was the subject of the child porn.

A man kidnapped Hailey from a street in western Springfield on Feb. 18, 2014. Her body was found several hours later in the basement of Wood’s home in central Springfield. Wood is charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder; his trial is scheduled for this fall.

“Our investigation showed that Hailey Owens was a complete random victim,” said Springfield Police Lt. Grant Dorrell on Monday.

“And you never found any connection between the two men?” a reporter asked.

“Zero; zero between Mr. Barfield and Mr. Wood,” said Dorrell.

Even though this is a federal indictment of Barfield, state, county, and local law enforcement agencies sometimes help federal agents with their investigations. Dorrell said Springfield police did not work on the investigation that led to the indictment of Barfield.

The indictment says Barfield “did knowingly receive and distribute any visual depiction that had been mailed and shipped and transported in interstate commerce, and which contains materials which had been so mailed and shipped and transported by any means, including by computer, the production of which involved the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

Reporters could not reach Stacey Barfield, Hailey’s mom, for comment on Monday. Jeffrey Barfield is free on his own recognizance, meaning he didn’t have to post a bond, after making his first appearance in federal court on Friday. His next court appearance with his federal public defender is set for Feb. 27.

Neighbors of the rented home in west Springfield where the Barfields used to live, a block from where Hailey was kidnapped, said the home is vacant. They said they thought the Barfields moved about eight weeks ago. One neighbor thought they might have moved to St. Louis, although they met with a reporter for an interview in the backyard of the home last Saturday, the third anniversary of Hailey’s kidnapping and murder.

The Barfields and the parents of Wood have been working together this year to get the Missouri Legislature to pass a bill called Hailey’s Law. Its aim is to speed up the Amber Alert system. An Amber Alert wasn’t issued for a couple of hours after Hailey’s abduction because a requirement of the current system is that police have a description of the abductor as well as the missing child.

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