Saginaw murder case handled with care, instead of focusing on speed

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The gruesome discovery on a Saginaw street July 1 stunned not only neighbors and the larger community, but law officers who investigated the homicide of a child.

Inside a black garbage bag covered with a tarp and dumped on the residential street was the body of 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher, her head covered with plastic grocery bags secured with red duct tape.

As days went by without officials identifying a suspect, the public grew anxious that a killer might be on the loose, and some grew suspicious, wondering whether a family member was involved.

Saginaw Police Chief Roger Macon warned early on that real-life crime stories are not like those on television — they usually are not solved in a matter of minutes or days. Scientific evidence isn’t analyzed instantaneously, and not everyone who is interviewed is an automatic suspect.

Relying on what the chief called “old-fashioned police work,” the Saginaw Police Department teamed with the FBI, The Texas Rangers and a task force of officers from other agencies to conduct a meticulous, deliberate investigation that may prove to be a textbook study of an abduction/murder.

Without overplaying their hand or publicly jumping to conclusions, law enforcement officials combed the neighborhood looking for clues, conducting interviews, gathering physical and scientific evidence and then waiting patiently for that evidence to be analyzed.

Results of some of those tests — including DNA evidence — came back Friday, linking a 17-year-old neighbor to the girl’s sexual assault and death. On Tuesday, members of the task force went to the home of suspect Tyler Holder, who lived two houses from Alanna and her parents.

When officers knocked, police say, Holder came to the door, pulled a gun and fired, wounding Arlington police Detective Charles Lodatto. Holder was shot in the head. Both men remained in local hospitals Wednesday.

Law enforcement officials are to be commended for their work, although everyone must remember that Holder has not been found guilty.

The way different agencies worked together in itself is worthy of note. But they also must be credited for conducting their investigation using their own methodical process despite public impatience.

After all, this was not an episode of CSI.

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