Amanda Guerra, NBC 5 News
Alanna Gallagher's mother, Laura, talked for the first time since her 6-year-old daughter's death, on the same day someone set fire to the family's car.
The mother of Alanna Gallagher spoke to reporters Friday after someone set fire to the family car and a small memorial to the 6-year-old.
Remnants of the burned car were still evident in the driveway of the home on Friday afternoon. It's something investigators and the family certainly didn't need to deal with while the murder investigation continues.
"It has been the worst month of my life," Laura Gallagher said fewer than 12 hours after her home nearly caught fire.
Gallagher surveyed the spot where one of the family's cars was intentionally set on fire early Friday morning.
"Woken by doorbell, banging on the door," she said. "Fortunately, a neighbor had come over to wake us. We'd been asleep upstairs."
The fire started at about 2:15 a.m., not long after the Gallaghers had called it a night.
"It's very frightening," said Laura Gallagher, who said she is worried someone may have been watching their home.
The fire came less than three weeks after the killing of her 6-year-old daughter.
"Be aware of your happily ever after -- hug your kids, appreciate what you have," Gallagher said. "You don't realize how suddenly everything can come falling down."
Friday was the first time Gallagher had publicly spoken since her daughter's death. After the arson, she felt it was time to talk, she said.
"You keep wanting to think, 'It can't be real. I can't imagine anyone would hurt her,'" she said.
Gallagher said she is most worried for her daughter's brother and sister, who were not at home when the car fire started. She said she and her partners do continue to struggle.
"You cry a lot," she said.
But they're grateful for all the support around town, she said.
"When I see the purple ribbons, I think about all her purple hearts," Gallagher said.
She said her daughter used to draw stick figures of her and her mother and surround the figures with purple hearts. As positive as the purple ribbons are, they do cause Laura Gallagher a bit of pain, too.
"There's times that we go out where I just feel like a big bruise all over, and I feel like the purple is showing that Saginaw is bruised, too," she said.
The early-morning fire only adds another wound to the family and community.
"It's kind of hard to say what people's intent was in this situation," Saginaw police spokesman Officer Damon Ing said. "[It's] just very disheartening that someone would do this to the family."
A family that just wants justice.
"I want them to be caught," Laura Gallagher said. "I don't want this to happen to any other family.
Gallagher said she hopes the fire will lead to more tips in her daughter's death. A family friend has arranged for a surveillance system to be installed at their home, she said.
Police towed the burned sedan away for further investigation, and investigators were seen canvassing the neighborhood on Friday afternoon regarding the arson.
Ing said there is no motive known for the fire, saying investigators do not know if it's related to Alanna Gallagher's slaying or if it was just some kids playing a terrible prank.