Police chief: Saginaw girl’s parents not ‘prime suspects’ in her slaying

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Investigators have seized more than 100 items from the home of a slain 6-year-old girl — including duct tape, belts and restraints — but Saginaw’s police chief cautioned Tuesday that nothing points to her parents or a man who lives with them as “prime suspects” in her death.

No one has been eliminated as a suspect, Saginaw Police Chief Roger Macon said.

Search warrant returns unsealed by a state district judge this week show that law officers took the items from the home in the 600 block of Babbling Brook Drive as well as from three vehicles parked outside.

The warrants were signed the day after Alanna Gallagher’s partially nude body was found in a black trash bag wrapped with tape and placed beneath a tarp secured with a belt.

She was found near a curb on a residential street less than a mile from her home.

Macon described the “arm and leg restraints” mentioned in the warrant as novelty items used by adults.

“There’s nothing to indicate that there was mistreatment in the home of these children,” he said.

Alanna’s father told police that his daughter was playing outside when she disappeared July 1. The Tarrant County medical examiner has not released the cause of death.

“Miss Gallagher was bound with some fashion of tape,” Macon said. “It was as much the goal of the search team to retrieve items to exclude the parents as suspects as ... it was to collect items we would consider evidentiary in value.

“This, of course, would require taking samples from their residence.”

Three adults lived in the home with Alanna and two of her siblings.

Her parents, Karl and Laura Gallagher, were in a “polyamorous” relationship with a second man named Miles McDaniel, Laura Gallagher wrote on her LiveJournal blog. McDaniel, 37, is identified as one of Alanna’s parents in her obituary.

“The Gallagher/McDaniel family considers Miles as a parent, and we are being considerate of their lifestyle; it’s not our place to offer judgment on them,” Macon said.

“As with any criminal investigation, each of the people closest to the victim is being considered, and their actions investigated.”

The search warrant indicates that police were looking for a Walmart receipt, red duct tape and packaging, Walmart plastic bags, trash bags, men’s clothing size 38-46, a men’s belt size 38-44, and any material that could be used to bind hands or feet.

In addition, investigators were seeking computers, cell phones, jump drives or other digital storage media devices, as well any biological evidence and fibers that could be evidence.

Macon said it is still unknown whether any of the items seized are significant to the investigation.

“There’s nothing on the list that most people would not have in their home,” he said.

He said most of the evidence is still being analyzed by the medical examiner.

Other evidence may be sent to the FBI lab, which has a significant backlog from other major crimes around the world.

“As I stated to a concerned resident earlier this morning, what we see in TV police shows is not the way trace evidence works in real life,” Macon said.

“The crime lab does not produce results in minutes or hours, but rather in days, weeks and months. We do not expect to see ... any comparative results in less than two weeks, which leaves old-fashioned police work as our primary resource at this time.”

Macon said investigators have spent days reviewing video taken from several home security systems.

“They have isolated most, if not all, vehicles entering and exiting both neighborhoods on the day of the murder,” he said. “Other investigators have then gone back to the neighborhoods to find the cars seen in the videos.

“It’s not that any one of them is a suspect, it’s simply that we are tracking each car/truck down to verify that they belong in that neighborhood.”

Macon said that if any of the vehicles cannot be accounted for, investigators will broaden the scope of their search.

“Again, sometimes it’s better to find exclusions, then work from there,” he said.

Macon said police are still trying to locate a red pickup seen near the tarp before Alanna’s body was discovered. He said investigators cannot speculate on whether the truck was involved or had simply driven past the scene.

Alanna was a kindergartner at Willow Creek Elementary School in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw district. Her funeral is set for Thursday at Calvary Lutheran Church in Richland Hills.

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655 Twitter: @deannaboyd

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