Local News

Teen tied to tree overnight dies

Posted June 13, 2008
Updated June 14, 2008

— A 13-year-old boy who was tied to a tree two nights this week died Thursday, and his father and stepmother have been charged with murder, authorities said Friday.

Brice Brian McMillan, 41, and Sandra Elizabeth McMillan, 36, both of 1110 Felton Farm Road in Macclesfield, have been charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse. They were being held Friday in the Edgecombe County Detention Center without bond.

Deputies were called to the Felton Farm Road residence Thursday afternoon to assist paramedics with an unresponsive teen. The boy's father told deputies he had tied the teen to a tree outside the home Tuesday night because he was being disobedient and other disciplinary actions had failed.

The father said he untied the boy Wednesday morning and allowed him back into the house, but he was tied to the tree a second time that night when he started acting up again. The boy remained tied up until his stepmother found him unconscious at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, authorities said.

The father was performing CPR on the teen when paramedics arrived at the house, said John Dwight Jefferson, of the Pinetops Rescue Squad.

The teen, who was identified as Tyler Gene McMillan, was in cardiac arrest and was taken to Heritage Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Jefferson said.

"People are people. When it happens, you still always ask the same question – why?" Jefferson said.

Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight said the boy's wrists and ankles were bound with plastic ties and that he was also tied to the tree with some other material. Although a rope was seen dangling from a tree in the yard outside the house Friday, he wouldn't confirm whether that was used to tie the boy.

Investigators found bruises on the boy's wrists and ankles, Knight said, declining to comment on whether other marks were found on  his body.

A 7-year-old and a 9-year-old who live in the McMillan home have been placed in the custody of the Department of Social Services, authorities said.

Tyler McMillan's mother, Michelle "Mickey" Sasser McMillan, died of cancer several years ago.

Carolyn Pollard, who lives across the road from the McMillans, said the family moved to the area about three months ago from Florida. The children were homeschooled, and the family kept to themselves, she said.

"I was devastated. I did not believe that had taken place," Pollard said. "I never did see any kind of abuse, and that's why I'm shocked with it."

The McMillans first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.


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  • Dr. Dataclerk Jun 16, 2008

    May these so-called parents get life in prison with no parole ever. This was a senseless act on their part.

  • Sue Jun 13, 2008

    Rest in peace young man, rest in peace.

  • bronzegoddess40 Jun 13, 2008

    This is really sick that these sick people would do this to their son/step-son. I hope that go straight to prison and stay there for life.

  • educgrad Jun 13, 2008

    Glad people are not all STEREOTYPING homeschoolers. Anyone who knows homeschoolers knows this is not the norm. These were people who abused their child,plain and simple.

  • newmommy06 Jun 13, 2008

    Absolutely DISGUSTING! They will ROT!

  • mooremotox Jun 13, 2008

    I am a home-school mom. We started out in "school" and my child was passed up even when I pointed out year after year he was struggling. After years, I pulled him out and started home schooling him. He did much better. When it was time for him to take drivers-ed, he had to go to the public school. He came home telling me how disrespectful the kids were to the teacher. How they acted up in class, it was just a BIG joke. He and the other home-schoolers, I am sure were a delight to that teacher....
    To the other family members of this young boy, I am truly sorry for your loss. The prayers of many are with you. Happiness can be found in knowing this young man is with his mother in heaven. God bless you.

  • lovecarolinagutters Jun 13, 2008

    Unbelievable.........I would really like to know what behavior this child exhibited, that was deserving of being bound by the wrists and ankles and tied to a tree.
    How did they sleep knowing their child was outside tied to a tree?
    My teenagers go out for an evening of fun and I can't sleep until they are home safe, in bed.

  • christinarighthere Jun 13, 2008

    I live in CA, and I am appalled at the child abuse this young man had to endure. Humiliation of being tied to a tree is indeed child abuse, irrespective of whether or not the parents will suffer in the future is immaterial. This young man is dead due to "punishment" from his father and wicked stepmother. This story made me weep. I hope the parents are "punished" accordingly, to the maximum extent. And the two other siblings, hopefully they will not have to be "tied to a tree" in order to be effectively disciplined. God Bless Tyler's Soul.

  • SunnyDays Jun 13, 2008

    Home-School, what in "the name of Pete" has Home-Schooling even have to do with this, this is just flat out child abuse in the again one of the worst forms, I agree they don't even deserve a trial. As bad as I hate to say it the child is probably better off. May he rest in Peace.

  • rruss Jun 13, 2008

    I will say this again. I knew this kid and his mother personally. He was one of my students in a homeschool co-op class I taught. He was not unruly. they did not homeschool so they could hide abuse. I think it was an over the top punishment gone wrong. Negligent yes, murder no. Most definitely I would classify this as manslaughter. They are going to have to live with this forever. this is not a homeschool issue. If you want it to be then you will lose because homeschoolers out perform public schooled kids in every category including socialization and manners. When all the facts flesh out we may find that the step mother was scared of the dad, she was the monster, he was the monster, or they were both monsters. Right now we don't know. In public at least they were a well adjusted family. One thing is clear, this family will never be the same again. They need prayer and patience.