Saginaw PD believes girl's murder is 'isolated case,' issues reward

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by MARCUS MOORE & MARJORIE OWENS

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarcusMoorewfaa

WFAA

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 7:36 PM

Alanna Gallagher's body found

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SAGINAW –– Investigators believe that the six-year-old Saginaw girl found dead along a residential road Monday is an isolated case and that there is no related threat to other residents. 

Wednesday afternoon, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner identified the girl as Alanna Gallagher, who was reported missing Monday evening. She turned six last month. Her cause of death has still not been made public.

The girl's father, Karl Gallagher, made a brief statement to the media Wednesday.

"Today, the [medical examiner] determined that [Alanna] has died," he said. "We urge anyone with information about her to contact the police. Please, respect our privacy during this time of tragedy."

Two teens, 14-year-old Wesley Whiddon and 18-year-old John Smith, said they found the body of the girl while attempting to move what they believed was a bag of trash. The teens said the girl was wrapped in tarp and her feet and hands were bound with tape. They told the dispatcher that a Walmart plastic bag covered her head.

Gallagher was found at the intersection of Cindy Ln. and Round Rock Dr. at about 7:30 p.m. Monday. The discovery site was more than one mile north of the victim's home on Babbling Brook Dr., where parents reported their daughter missing at about 9 p.m. that evening.

Ing said investigators are treating the case as a homicide despite the pending results from an autopsy.

"I can assure the community of Saginaw and all surrounding areas that you're perfectly safe in this community," said Ofc. Damon Ing, Saginaw police spokesman. "At times, unfortunately, we're struck with circumstances such as this, but I believe that this is going to be an isolated case." 

The FBI and the North Texas Major Case Investigative Team, which is made up of law enforcement agencies from across the region, are aiding the Saginaw Police Department, Ing said. Two tip lines have been set up at 682.888.3682 and 682.888.3684 and are manned 24 hours a day. 

Anyone with information leading to an arrest and conviction stands to be awarded $10,000, Ing said. 

Investigators are still searching for a red pickup truck spotted by witnesses near the scene. Witnesses told police the truck had a green paint splatter on the right rear panel. During an afternoon press conference Wednesday, Ing said investigators were not sure whether Gallagher was intentionally placed in the roadway or if she fell out of the truck. 

On Wednesday, an FBI receipt viewed by WFAA revealed investigators confiscated plastic bags, various colored tapes and tarp to help the probe into Gallagher's death. The list was written onto an FBI search warrant receipt visible on the front seat of a car registered to the owner of the home where the victim lived. A partial list of items taken included:

  • Walmart plastic bags
  • Charmin Ultra Soft pack
  • Blue/Gray tarp
  • Red, White, Camouflage tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Citizens Academy card
  • Copy of Social Security card

Hours before the medical examiner's ruling, Saginaw police released 911 calls made by the Whiddon family in which the caller described the tarp.

"I haven't opened it all the way up, but I can see the legs and everything," the caller said. "There's a belt around [the tarp], tape."

Police said the girl's parents have been cooperative and are distraught over the loss of their daughter. While they have been questioned, the parents are not considered suspects.

"It would be an assumption to say there's been parental neglect in this case," Ing said. 

FBI and Saginaw police spent Tuesday investigating the girl's home and where she was found. Agents were seen removing items from the parents' home. Neither Saginaw police nor the FBI would specifically comment on items collected during their 22-hour search.

News 8's Matt Goodman contributed to this report

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