On November 2, Washington 5-year-old Hartley Anderson was in the care of her mom’s boyfriend while she was away at work.
Around 5 p.m. that evening, 37-year-old Ryan Burge told police that the child injured herself while having a tantrum, KATU reports.
Paramedics found the girl “bleeding badly” in the home and airlifted her to the hospital, where she passed away. Her aunt, Whitney Luchau, said:
“She passed away with no one around her. We still haven’t seen her. She’s five. So I can’t imagine how scared she was.”
According to court documents obtained by KATU, a doctor told police that the child’s injuries were not self-inflicted from a tantrum.
Authorities then arrested Burge and charged him with murder. He made his first court appearance on Monday, in front of a packed room including the child’s parents and supporters.
Fox 8 reports that many in the courtroom were wearing “#JusticeforHartley” t-shirts, including the child’s biological father, Peter Anderson.
But soon, the dad was taken out in handcuffs when he attempted to charge at Burge when he entered the courtroom.
Another supporter in the crowd shouted at Burge, “Burn! Burn in Hell!”
The child’s emotional mother, Natasha Luchau, was sobbing and had to be carried out of the courtroom. Her sister said:
“(My sister) had no way of knowing what he was capable of.”
The child’s grandfather, Tim Luchau, also attended the hearing. He was devastated by the loss of his granddaughter, he said:
“I’ll never get to see her graduate from high school or get married or anything. He took that from us. He took the joy we had with her away. I just hope the system works. I hope the system works.”
Burge has a previous charge of conspiracy to commit arson. He is currently being held on a $5 million bail.
Hartley’s family has vowed to be in court for every one of his hearings.