Slain Saginaw 6-Year-Old Girl Alanna Gallagher Laid to Rest

Girl's funeral held at church where she loved to spend time

By Chris Van Horne
|  Thursday, Jul 11, 2013  |  Updated 6:59 PM EDT
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Slain Saginaw 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher was laid to rest Thursday.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 News

Slain Saginaw 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher was laid to rest Thursday.

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Slain Saginaw Girl to be Laid to Rest

Slain Saginaw 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher will be laid to rest Thursday.

Tips Dwindle in Saginaw Slaying Case

With tips dwindling in the search for whoever killed 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher, the FBI and Saginaw police are using billboards to ask for more leads in the case.
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As police continue to investigate the death of 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher, her family, friends and church family remembered her for loving church and everyone she met.

Gallagher's body was found wrapped in a tarp about one mile from her Saginaw home on July 1.

Her funeral was held at the family's church, Calvary Lutheran Church in Richland Hills, on Thursday morning.

While the focus in the last 10 days has been on who killed her, attention Thursday turned to how everyone the short life she lived.

"She has joined the company of cheerleaders," said Phillip Heinze, Calvary Lutheran Church pastor.

Before a full church of family, friends and fellow parishioners, a community mourned and reflected on Gallagher's life.

"She was very outgoing, intelligent little girl," said Van Westen, a Calvary Lutheran Church member.

The funeral was designed with Gallagher in mind, featuring bouncy hymns that Heinze said Gallagher liked.

"The gospel we chose is, 'Let the Children Come to Me,'" he said. "First Corinthians 13, 'love is patient and kind,' because that seems to epitomize Alanna and the life that she had."

Cameras were not allowed inside, but Gallagher was remembered as a girl who danced and sang in the church aisles, showed off her dresses in Sunday school and loved to come to church.

"She liked coming up for Communion, singing all the songs, the camp songs," Heinze said. "She was just a delightful little girl."

Gallagher was said to have memorized hymns and songs by heart before she could even read.

All three of her parents spoke about their daughter, saying she loved everyone and brought them endless joy.

Karl Gallagher said she loved bedtime stories and particularly liked to ask him about stories from his youth. The night before she died, she asked him to tell him a story from when he was 16 years old, he said.

He did and, when she asked for more, he told her the story of when he was 18 would have to come on another night. He said he told her that story on Wednesday night during the viewing at the church.

Miles McDaniel, Gallagher’s biological father, also spoke. He said that she knew more people and had more friends than the rest of the family combined. He appeared to cut his remarks short as he was overcome with emotion.

Alanna Gallagher's mother, Laura, also spoke. She said her daughter told her that she had selected her to be her mother before she was born or in her mother's stomach. Laura Gallagher turned to her daughter's casket and said "thank you" for selecting her.

Laura Gallagher ended her remarks by singing her daughter's song, her family's version of "You Are My Sunshine," for her for one last time. All of her children have specific songs that are sung to them with lyrics changed for the family.

The family has offered few public comments about their daughter. Heinze said the family members are dealing with everything the best that they can.

"They're enduring -- lot of support, lot encouragement, lot of prayers, lot of comfort," he said. "That's all you can do, is endure."

Those who knew Alanna Gallagher from church are quite shaken with what happened to her.

"She was just a sweet little girl," Westen said. "Something like that should not have happened."

But, as was said throughout the service, she's now in a better place.

"We're confident that Alanna has joined the great cloud of witnesses," Heinze said.

FBI Using Billboards for New Leads

Several investigators attended the funeral service. Police are still looking for tips and leads in an effort to find those responsible for her death. No suspects have been identified, and investigators say it is a challenging case.

The FBI has debuted electronic billboards across North Texas in an effort to get more leads in the slaying.

Saginaw police say the number of tips in Alanna Gallagher's death has dropped since her body was found a mile from her Saginaw home days ago.

Investigators are now reaching out for more leads through electronic billboards, including one at Euless Bedford Road and state Highway 121. The signs have Gallagher's photo, name, the tip line numbers and a statement that suspects are still wanted.

Read more about the billboards here.

A candlelight vigil in honor of Alanna Gallagher is scheduled for Thursday night.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Gallagher's death.

Anyone with information is asked to call 682-888-3682 or 682-888-3684.

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