5-Year-Old Wandering Alone After Midnight Leads Authorities to Mother's Murder Scene

Michelle Burns, 36, was found dead with knife wounds to the neck

Michelle Burns
Photo: GoFundMe

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, authorities at the Dumont Police Department in New Jersey received a troubling call: a small child was wandering alone outside of an apartment complex.

Authorities arrived on the scene and found the 5-year-old child, who was walking through the apartment complex courtyard.

After they found the child, responding officers discovered that the child's mother, 36-year-old Michelle Burns, lived in the complex with her boyfriend, Jeffrey Daniels.

According to ABC News, authorities said they went to the mother's home to learn why the child was wandering alone. That's when they made a gruesome discovery.

"Officers entered Ms. Burns’ apartment to conduct a welfare check and found her deceased," said Bergen County Prosecutor Mike Musella in a statement released to multiple local media outlets. "She had been stabbed in the neck with a kitchen knife."

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Authorities soon learned that Burns' sister, Nicole Boccellari, lived next door. She told authorities that she had heard an argument coming from inside the apartment earlier in the evening, but did not believe that the argument would turn violent. She later unsuccessfully tried to reach her sister by phone.

Jeffrey Daniels
Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office

Jeffrey Daniels had left the scene.

Shortly after discovering Burns' body, police arrested Daniels, 36, when he allegedly showed up at the front door of a nearby residence with two other children, ages 6 months and 18 months old. NorthJersey.com reports that Burns was allegedly not wearing pants, but was simply wearing a jacket and holding the children.

Daniels asked the neighbor for a ride to the hospital, but the neighbor called 911 instead, police said. Authorities took Daniels and the children to a nearby hospital, where they were found to be unharmed.

Daniels was later arrested. According to NJ.com, he was charged with murder, weapons offenses and endangering the welfare of a child.

A neighbor told ABC 7 that Daniels and Burns had "constant friction" in their relationship.

Daniels is being held without bond and has not yet entered a plea. Court records do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on his behalf.

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