Local News

Teen was tied to tree 18 hours before death

Posted June 16, 2008 4:36 a.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2008 8:06 p.m. EDT

— 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.