‘And her parents are nice and very, very smart people. They like books. The last time I was in their home, the front room looked like a library.’
Mr Janus said he took his children with Alanna and her father on Halloween for the last few years.
According to his Facebook page, Alanna’s father Karl Gallagher graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and works as an engineer for a defense contractor. He posted dozens of pictures of his three children on his Facebook page.
‘She was a precious little girl. I usually just saw her on her scooter,’ neighbor Kay Stief told the Dallas Morning News.
Many neighbors say they often saw her playing alone – either in her yard or on the neighborhood streets near her house. However, in the quiet suburban neighborhood, they said they usually didn’t think too much of it.
Police and the FBI searched the girl’s home for several hours on Tuesday, carrying out boxes of documents and computers.
This aerial image shows the tarp where the girl’s body was found, lower right corner, in the middle of a quiet intersection
Murder: The FBI has joined the investigation after the horrifying discovery. No children from the area have been reported missing, so the case starts with few leads
A police spokesman said they were interviewing the parents – though at they moment they were only trying to confirm the timeline of when the girl was abducted from her home.
The girl’s body was found about 7.30pm on Monday by 14-year-old Owen Whiddon, who was riding his scooter through his neighborhood in Saginaw – about a mile and a half from where the girl lived.
He said he saw a tarp in the middle of an intersection, tightly rapped with a belt.
‘I said, “Well, let’s pick it up, let’s put it in the trash can,” you know, because we’re a clean community,’ he told the Morning News.
What he found shocked him to his core. He ran back home and told his mother: ‘Mom, it’s a little girl.’
Whiddon’s friend Josh Smith, 18, told KXAS-TV that he is will never be the same after seeing the girl dead.
‘At first, I just thought it was some rubber stuff at first, and then I got a closer look and all I saw was a bag and I saw some hair sticking out and so, I was like, “Oh my God! It’s a girl!”‘ he said.
‘And that’s when I dropped to my knees and just started crying.’
The girl’s body was found in Saginaw, Texas, a city of 20,000 outside Forth Worth
Katie Whiddon, Owen’s mother, told KTVT-TV that she didn’t believe her son at first. When he convinced her he was telling the truth, she called 911.
‘I was panicking. I was freaked out. How can somebody hurt a little girl?’ she said.
Ms Whiddon told KDFW-TV that the girl was naked except for a bear of purple underwear and her hands and feet were bound. She had a plastic grocery bag over her head.
Police say they are still not sure when the girl’s body was dumped. Some neighbors said they noticed the tarp in the road about noon. Others say they didn’t see it until about 7pm.
Neighbors said her father started looking for her about 9pm Tuesday – an hour and a half after he body was found. They recalled him going door-to-door asking if anyone had seen his daughter.
‘You could tell on his face, he didn’t know what to do,’ Mr Janus, the neighbor, told the Star-Telegram.
‘It was like he was in shock and that he didn’t know where else to look.’
Another neighbor, Derinda, told the Morning News that she saw Alanna’s mother around that time, too. The neighbor said she didn’t seem very worried about her daughter.
Derinda recalls the mother saying: ‘I bet she’s over at a neighbor’s home. She always does this.’
About 9.15pm, Mr Janus said he saw Alanna’s father walk over to two police cruisers that had parked on his street. He believes that is when the parents reported their young daughter missing.
Alanna’s two other siblings are staying with family friends while their parents are being questioned by police.
Neighbors say they noticed a red pickup truck with a green splotch on the rear passenger-side panel in the neighborhood shortly before the body was found.
Investigators believe the driver may have something to do with the body and have asked anyone with information about the truck to come forward.