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Teen was tied to tree 18 hours before death

Posted June 16, 2008

— Tyler Gene McMillan was tied to a tree at his house for 18 hours before he died, according to arrest warrants made public during his father's and stepmother’s first court appearance Monday on murder charges.

The 13-year-old's father, Brice McMillan, 41, wept during most of the brief proceeding. Neither he nor his wife, Sandra McMillan, 36, acknowledged the other while in court; they have retained separate attorneys.

Reading from the warrants, District Judge Joseph Harper said the boy had bruises on his wrists, cuts over his entire body and was missing flesh on his buttocks from being tied to the tree.

Meanwhile Monday, Tyler was buried next to his mother and remembered by family and friends as a boy who enjoyed reading, karate, professional wrestling and being outdoors fishing and playing with his cousins.

"We will miss Tyler very much and are in shock, disbelief and unbearable grief," his family said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.

Brice McMillan told Edgecombe County deputies he tied his son to a tree at their house, 1110 Felton Farm Road in Macclesfield, last Tuesday night because the boy was being disobedient and other disciplinary actions had failed.

He said he untied Tyler Wednesday morning and allowed him back into the house but tied him for a second time that night when the boy started misbehaving again.

Tyler remained tied up until Sandra McMillan found him unconscious at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. He was taken to Heritage Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

It was unclear from the arrest warrant, however, whether the 18 hours the boy spent tied up were consecutive or the total time spanning the two days, and authorities could not comment on the matter. Search warrants remain sealed.

Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight has said the boy's wrists and ankles were bound with plastic wrap and that he was also tied to the tree with some other material.

A rope was seen dangling from a tree in the yard outside the house Friday, but Knight would not confirm whether that was used to tie the boy.

A 7-year-old and a 9-year-old who lived in the McMillan home were placed in the custody of the Department of Social Services, authorities said. According to an obituary in The Daily Reflector of Greenville, Tyler had one brother.

Brice and Sandra McMillan are both scheduled to be back in court July 2 for a probable cause hearing.

If convicted, they could face life in prison or the death penalty.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • VT1994Hokie Jun 17, 2008

    Ole Dataclerk. Not all home schooling is bad. Don't judge this freak with some great parents that know what they are doing. This is another family that is totally out of sight. They don't see reality while raising a child. Hope they stay in jail for the rest of their lives.

    I see that you hide your idenity. But, I read that you have many comments on just about everything.

  • misschris234 Jun 17, 2008

    I said it was their fault, because it was their fault. there was nothing inadvertent about it the way I see it. It was both of their faults, and yes, they will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. What bothers me is you say "due to the longevity of the situation". In what world is tying a child to a tree for ANY length of time okay? Answer is, it isn't. Any length of time is horrible parenting, but any amount of time when it is over 100 degrees heat index, with a 40 foot visibility due to smoke, the heaviest particle concentration in recorded history, and not just once. They tied him up one night, and then the next night, and didn't check on him until 4:30 that afternoon. there is nothing else that needs to be said, anyone that thought that was a good idea needs to have their heads examined. And they will pay dearly for it, but not as dearly as this young boy did.

  • RomansPeace Jun 17, 2008

    Just so it is set straight, I never said they should not be punished. What I did say is that people are quick to judge in a situation in which they don't know or understand the whole story. Yes, the simple facts are there. Tyler was tied to a tree and because of the longevity of the situation, he died. It seems that everyone is blaming only the father. How is it that the stepmother who shows no emotion towards the situation not being commented about? The real judgment will be made when it is their time to face God. I believe that what they did was wrong, but the key word in that statement is THEY. Also, this statement about him beating his wife if bogus, another assumption. Just try and stick to the "facts" that the media provides and don't make accusations without any hint of proof. No one will ever know what really happened except for them. The fact that a father inadvertently killed his son is something that he will have to live with for the rest of his life.

  • tarheel22 Jun 17, 2008

    Hey Roman. Facts are facts. The man killed his son and he should pay for his crime. He will be judged regardless.

  • misschris234 Jun 17, 2008

    I'm not judging, God will certainly decide that. But he killed his son, and he will have to live with that forever. Any person that leaves their kid outside tied to a tree overnight, in sweltering heat, dangerous smoke, overnight not once but twice, is sick in the head. His son died by his actions, at his hands. That isn't passing judgement, it's fact. I don't really care who he was 2 years ago, fact remains a boy is dead and it's their fault, period.

  • islandgirl Jun 17, 2008

    I hope that the so called parents pay dearly for the pain and suffering and the death of Tyler... Can you imagine what this child endure and pain he felt before he took his last breathe, and what was going thru his head... They need to pay, for what they've done, this is unforgivable, they are not parents they are monsters, this is so sad... Tyler is with his mother, and is not enduring pain and abuse from his dad and step mother, rest in peace tyler.... And for these two devils, you will burn in hell

  • Jax is proud to be an American Jun 17, 2008

    This is a perfect example why we should have the death penalty. What kind of human being does this? Let a lone to a child? God Bless him. I hope they will be punished in the most extreme case for what they did to him. I am glad the other children are safe. Such a shame.

  • RomansPeace Jun 17, 2008

    I think it's funny how all of you can pass judgement on people that you do not know. Men are not called to judge that is left up to God. Only He can decide the fate of these two. For the person who said the tears were fake, how can you know? That is something that NO ONE can judge. I know this family and know that if you met Brice and his boys 2 years ago you would not have even thought that something like this would ever occur. So before you decide to make accusations please get your facts straight and realize that you shouldn't always believe what the media tells you.
    -Romans 8:1-2

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jun 17, 2008

    Yes, I agree, there should be more ways to monitor homeschools, but who is going to do it?

    Solution: The state should not allowd home-schooling. Now that's taken care.

  • mrtwinturbo Jun 17, 2008

    You know, it's funny. Both of the "parents" had criminal records

    Really....where did you get your information? There is nothing on the NCDOC site and nothing on the FDOC site