Feb 21, 2017
Harrison Keegan , HKEEGAN@NEWS-LEADER.COM
An investigator with the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force said Tuesday that Hailey Owens was not a victim of her stepfather’s alleged crimes.
Hailey, 10, was abducted and killed in February 2014 in Springfield, and her stepfather Jeffrey Barfield was indicted last week on a federal child porn charge.
Investigator Brian Martin told the News-Leader that Hailey was not a victim of Barfield.
If Hailey was a victim, Martin said, Barfield’s charges would have been “much more serious.”
Barfield, 38, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on a charge of sexual exploitation of minors. The indictment was unsealed Friday.
The indictment alleges that Barfield received and distributed material that “involved the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” between Jan. 1, 2012 and Sept. 22, 2016.
Martin said nothing in the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force investigation led authorities to think there’s a connection between Barfield’s activity and the abduction of his stepdaughter in 2014.
Since Barfield was indicted by a grand jury, public court documents do not provide any more details about the allegations.
Martin declined to provide further detail about the case against Barfield, referring those questions to federal prosecutors. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case beyond what is contained in public court documents.
Online court records indicate Barfield has been released on bond and he is being represented by an attorney with the federal public defender’s office.
Barfield’s attorney did not return a phone call Tuesday morning seeking comment for this report.
Hailey, a Westport Elementary School fourth grader, was abducted from the street near her home in west Springfield and killed on Feb. 18, 2014.
Police say they found the girl’s body in the home of 48-year-old Craig Michael Wood, hours after witnesses saw someone matching Wood’s description grab Hailey off the street and pull her into his truck.
Wood has been charged with murder, kidnapping and rape in connection with Hailey’s death.
Wood’s attorney Patrick Berrigan told the News-Leader this month Wood is willing to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life in prison if, in exchange, the Greene County prosecutor drops his pursuit of the death penalty.
Barfield and his wife Stacey, Hailey’s mother, have traveled to Jefferson City this year to advocate for legislation that would speed up Missouri’s Amber Alerts, which are issued for abducted children.
Wood’s parents, Jim and Regina Wood, have teamed up with the Barfields to advocate for the legislation, which has been dubbed Hailey’s Law.
Online court records indicate an arraignment has been scheduled in Jeffrey Barfield’s case for Monday.
Sexual exploitation of minors is a Class C felony with a range of punishment between 5 and 20 years in prison.
A description on the city of Joplin’s website says the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional group that investigates “sexual predators who exploit children through the use of the Internet” in southwest Missouri.