Tyler Holder, the Texas teenager arrested last summer for the brutal slaying of six-year-old Alanna Gallagher, has been sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years. Despite the decision regarding Holder’s fate, however, the small town of Saginaw—which was home to both murderer and victim—is still struggling with fear in the wake of the killing.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Holder was slated to go on trial for Alanna’s murder on October 20, but instead decided to accept a plea deal with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office. The teen, who was 17 at the time of the killing but is now 18, plead guilty to the murder and also admitted to setting fire to the Gallagher family’s home while a memorial for the little girl was being held. Holder also plead guilty to attempted capital murder in connection with the shooting of Arlington, Texas detective Charles Lodatto.
The grisly chain of events that Tyler Holder set in motion last summer began with his abhorrent sexual assault and suffocation of Alanna. After he had taken her young life, Holder dumped her on the street like so much trash. That’s where other neighborhood children found her, wrapped in a tarp, her head encased by plastic bags and her hands and feet swathed in duct tape.
Weeks passed while police searched for the perpetrator and Saginaw mourned Alanna’s tragic death with her family. Then came the day of the Gallagher’s memorial service and the fire that scorched their home.
Finally, DNA evidence linked Holder to the murder, and he was taken into custody. According to CBS Dallas/Forth Worth,the teen pulled a gun on police when they went to arrest him. That was when Holder shot Charles Lodatto in the groin before they were able to subdue him. The detective has since made a full recovery and returned to service.
A search of Holder’s home turned up the materials he had used during the murder, including the same red duct tape found on Alanna’s wrists and ankles, condoms, and bloody paper towels.
Holder must serve at least 50 years before he’s eligible for parole. The county DA’s office had initially sought the charge of capital murder, which would have brought life without parole. But in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling against mandatory life sentences for minors, they went with the lesser charge, for fear of creating a loophole that could be exploited for an early release.
Though the murderer who had lived among them is off the streets, the people of Saginaw still feel uneasy. There’s no telling how long Tyler Holder’s malevolent actions will linger in the minds of the town’s residents.
Images via Dallas Morning News and websleuths.com