A Michigan man accused of murdering his 5-year-old stepdaughter allegedly told police he “snapped” when she asked for food, stabbing the little girl to death and then setting her body on fire in an effort to cover up the crime, officials said in court.
Thomas McClellan, 25, allegedly became incensed when Luna Younger wouldn’t leave his bedroom in their Holt apartment after she asked him to get her something to eat on November 1, Ingham County Detective Chuck Buckland testified during a preliminary hearing Thursday, according to the Lansing State Journal.
McClellan allegedly told police that he wrestled the little girl to the ground, sat on her hips and stabbed her numerous times, the detective said.
He then allegedly covered the child’s lifeless body with blankets, doused the pile with vodka and set it on fire, Buckland continued.
A medical examiner reportedly testified that Luna died from at least five stab wounds to the chest and was dead by the time her body was burned.
Firefighters responding to the spreading fire eventually discovered Younger’s body under the blankets, but they said they knew nothing could be done to save her.
“I knew the victim had expired,” Delhi Township Firefighter Corey Drolett testified.
Still, he passed her little body through a window to a fellow firefighter and CPR was “very lightly” performed on the child.
“Based on the situation [I] felt that would show [the mother] that we were attempting some effort,” Drolett said.
Younger’s mother, Victoria McClellan, who was at work at the time of the killing, and told authorities she and her husband had been “bickering” earlier in the day, the State Journal wrote.
She convinced McClellan to surrender to police. He was taken into custody shortly thereafter.
McClellan, who had no criminal history, was charged with murder, first-degree child abuse and first-degree arson. He could face up to life in prison if found guilty.
Judge Thomas Boyd ruled that there was enough evidence to proceed to trial on all three charges. A court date has not yet been set.
McClellan’s attorney, Andrew Abood, said that while the judge’s decision was not surprising, he thinks “the story has yet to be fully developed. We only saw part of the story at the preliminary exam."
Luna was remembered as a "happy kindergartener" who "loved school," her obituary read.
"Recess, math and lunch were the favorite parts of her day," the memorial continued. "This sweet angel will be missed forever by her family and friends."
Loved ones were stunned by the child's gruesome death, taking to social media to express their grief.
"Luna was a delightful fairy, full of both sugar and spice. She was a special little girl and you did a beautiful job raising her," wrote one donor on a YouCaring Page created to help Luna's mother and family.
The YouCaring page quickly surpassed its goal of $7,000, having raised almost $12,000 as of Friday. As the donations continued to pour in, so did the heartfelt words.
"The light in her eyes was so bright ... She was wise beyond her years and had Godliness within her adorable little self. May you find comfort in God's graces," a mourner posted.
"I had the magnificent blessing of being Luna's kindergarten teacher this year," one of her educators wrote. "She brought light into my room for 41 days, and for that I am forever grateful. I continue to hold her close in my heart and know that I have an angel watching over me."