CHLOIE RHIANNA LEVERETTE
WEIGHT: 75 LBS
CHRISTOPHER GAGE DANIEL
WEIGHT: 50 LBS
CHLOIE AND CHRISTOPHER WERE DISCOVERED MISSING AFTER A FIRE AT THEIR RESIDENCE AT 730 KINGDOM ROAD, WHERE THEY LIVED WITH THEIR GRANDPARENTS.
THE CHILDREN WERE LAST SEEN APPROXIMATELY 6:30 PM. THE FIRE DESTROYED THEIR HOME AROUND 9:30 PM. INVESTIGATORS HAVE PROCESSED THE SCENE FOR FIVE DAYS AND HAVE DETERMINED THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT CHLOIE AND GAGE WERE VICTIMS OF THE FIRE. THE CHILDRENS’ GRANDPARENTS WERE KILLED.
MISSING SINCE: SEPTEMBER 23, 2012
MISSING FROM: UNIONVILLE, TENNESSEE
TENNESSEE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONS 800-824-3463
CRIME STOPPERS 931-685-4300
Four Dead Inside Tennessee House Fire
Couple and grandchildren perish in Bedford County fire.
Unionville firefighters fight flames billowing from a Kingdom Road home late Sunday night, Sept. 23, 2012, near Rover, Tenn. Four people died in the fire, authorities said. (AP Photo/Shelbyville Times-Gazette, David Melson)
Published Monday, September 24, 2012
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A couple and two step-grandchildren they were raising were killed in an intense fire in an old farmhouse that collapsed the walls.
Family members identified the couple as 72-year-old Leon “Bubba” McClaran and his 70-year-old wife, Molli McClaran. The family said the children were 9-year-old Chloe Pope and 7-year-old Gage Daniels. Someone passing the McClaran’s farm in Bedford County saw the home enveloped in flames Sunday night and called for help in Shelbyville, about a half-hour southwest of Nashville.
Sheriff Randall Boyce said by late morning Monday, investigators had found three of the bodies. He believed the missing remains were those of the boy.
“We’re going to keep looking until we find him,” Boyce said.
A request was made for cadaver-locating dogs.
The fire pulled air up from the full basement, making it very intense, Boyce said.
Family members drew a layout of the home, showing firefighters where the victims’ bedrooms were. Boyce said the three sets of remains were found near where their beds were located.
Authorities believe the fire began around 10 p.m. — about an hour after the family would usually be in bed. Firefighters fought the flames until around 4 a.m. Monday and they had yet to determine a cause.
Firefighters had to haul water and dump it into a canvas reservoir for the pumpers to draw from.
Mary Lamb said Leon McClaran was her younger brother and the property was part of the family farm where they all grew up. McClaran was the second-oldest of six siblings.
Lamb said her brother doted on the boy, who the family called “Buster.”
“That little boy went everywhere with him,” Lamb said.
Asked why the couple were raising their step-grandchildren, family members said simply that the children needed a home.
Cynthia Sudberry, also a sister of Leon McClaran, said her brother helped anyone who needed it. She said he made sure she had enough money while she recovered from surgery.
Sister Sherry Hobbs was also waiting near the end of a long lane leading back to the couple’s home and she recalled her brother’s kindness to her.
“When my husband died, he helped me with the farm,” Hobbs said. “He would stop by every day and check on me.”
Lamb said the family got together often and had celebrated Leon’s birthday earlier this month.
“We have lots of good memories right here,” she said. “This the homeplace where we were all raised. ”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
Bedford County fire victims laid to rest
Posted: Oct 21, 2012 10:20 PM EDTUpdated: Nov 04, 2012 10:22 PM EST
Reported by Adrianne Flores – email
UNIONVILLE, TN (WSMV) –
It’s been nearly a month since fire destroyed a Bedford County home, killing a husband and wife. Sunday, Leon and Molly McClaran were laid to rest.
Hundreds turned out to say their final goodbyes. But despite the moving service, family and friends still don’t have closure.
Stretching for nearly a mile through Unionville’s countryside, dozens of cars filled with family, friends and well-wishers winded through Cothran Cemetery Sunday.
“It touched our heart that they had that many friends and they came out today,” said Leon’s McClaran’s sister-in-law, Sharon McClaran.
“They was just joyful when you got around them,” added Leon McClaran’s brother, Marion McClaran.
Hundreds of people came from all over middle Tennessee to pay their final respects for Leon and Molly McClaran. But the day brought little closure for Sharon McClaran.
“Just wondering where the kids are, out there… who’s got them what they’re doing to them,” said Sharon McClaran.
Fire destroyed the couple’s home nearly four weeks ago. Initially authorities presumed the McClarans’ grandchildren, 9-year-old Chloie and 7-year-old Gage, also died in the fire. But a week later, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an Amber Alert for the siblings.
“It’s just kind of strange the way it happened,” said Marion McClaran.
Since then a small army of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and TBI agents have been scouring the property for any sign of the children, but so far, there’s no evidence either were in the house at the time. Marion McClaran doesn’t know what to believe.
“The children, it wasn’t anything found of the children and everything just leaves you kind of wondering you know,” Marion McClaran said.
It’s a dark cloud hanging over this otherwise picture perfect day as this tight-knit community tries to heal.
“Trusting the Lord that he’ll lead the right people in the right direction,” Sharon McClaran added.
Chloie is 4’8″ tall and has brown hair and hazel eyes. Gage is 4′ tall. He also has brown hair hazel eyes and wears glasses. If you’ve seen them or have any information on their whereabouts, call the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
ATF joins investigation of missing Bedford Co. children
Posted: Sep 26, 2012 1:15 PM EDTUpdated: Oct 24, 2012 1:15 PM EDT
Reported by Carley Gordon – email
Reported by Adrianne Flores – email
UNIONVILLE, TN (WSMV) –
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Wednesday began assisting in the search for two missing Bedford County children.
Authorities said they don’t believe 9-year-old Chloie Leverette and her half-brother, 7-year-old Gage Daniel, died in a Sept. 23 fire that incinerated their home, but there is also no indication where or when they could have gone.
On Wednesday, ATF agents started sifting through the remains of the house. Several teams are slowly going through piles of rubble.
The ATF said they added 11 to 12 additional personnel, who might be able to help decide whether there are any remains in the debris that have not been detected.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an Amber Alert for the children a couple weeks ago after previously issuing an endangered child alert.
Crews have spent days sifting through ashes by hand at the burned home of the children’s step-grandparents, Leon McClaran, 72, and 70-year-old Molly McClaran, who died in the fire.
The TBI said they’re working on a lot of leads in the case, but that has not yielded any results. All of the interviews they’ve conducted indicate the two missing children were actually in the house at the time of the fire.
All the while, members of the McClaran family continue to hold a vigil of sorts just feet away, sitting and waiting for answers.
“It’s really sad. We can’t find the kids. We really want to find the kids,” Leon McClaran Jr. said.
State bomb and arson investigators said that the children were not victims of the fire and their whereabouts remain unknown at this time.
“They feel like they don’t have solid evidence right now to assume that these children were in the fire,” said TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm.
Search crews found what they thought was a tooth but said it is not enough to close the case.
Officials also said they found at least 20 propane tanks in the basement of the house, which probably made the fire much worse. While they do not suspect arson, they said they may never know what started the fire in the first place.
The children were last seen about three hours before the night of the fire.
Crews have also used helicopters and searched the nearby woods to see if the children escaped the fire.
“To err on the side of caution, as far as law enforcement is concerned, we feel like we can leave no stone unturned and just try to follow every lead that we can to ensure that they’re not somewhere else,” Helm said. “I don’t know where else they would be. They were a close knit family.”
Chloie is described as a white female, approximately 4’8″ and 75 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. Gage is described as a white male, approximately 4′ and 75 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
The sheriff’s department brought in additional cadaver dogs to assist in the search, as well as forensic teams from Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee.
Neighbor Erika Barnett said she was just starting to come to terms with the fact her neighbors died in the fire when she learned they might have survived.
“It was just fire everywhere,” Barnett said. “As hot as that fire was over there, I don’t see how they would have gotten out.”
If you have any information concerning the current whereabouts of Chloie and Gage, please contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
AP NewsBreak: Autopsies released in fatal fire; two missing children still sought
NASHVILLE (AP) – The cause of death for a Bedford County couple found dead in a house fire nearly three months ago remains unknown as authorities continue to investigate the whereabouts of two children considered missing from the home.
According to autopsy reports obtained by The Associated Press, the cause and manner of death for 69-year-old Mollie McClaran and 72-year-old Leon “Bubba” McClaran could not be determined, although the remains were severely charred and soot was found in their airways.
The couple’s remains were recovered after a fire erupted at their home the evening of Sept. 23, but the grandchildren, 9-year-old Chloie Leverette and 7-year-old Gage Daniel, were never found after repeated searches of the rubble.
A statewide Amber Alert remains in effect for the children after investigators said they could not find evidence that the two died in the fire.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said the fire’s damage to the remains likely made it hard to determine for certain what killed the couple. According to the medical examiners report, both remains had to be identified by X-rays and DNA analysis.
“When someone is that badly burned, it’s difficult to determine a cause of death,” she said.
According to the autopsy reports, additional remains were found later and identified as a foot belonging to Mollie McClaran, as well as remains of two small animals. The autopsy also found thermal fractures of the skulls, ribs and bones of the arms and legs. Soot was found in the tracheas of both bodies.
Toxicology reports also were ordered for the couple. Mollie McClaran’s report said morphine and alprazolam, a drug used to treat anxiety, was found in her liver. Mary Lamb, the sister of Leon McClaran, said Mollie was being treated with the drugs because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“She had been diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, and it had returned,” Lamb told the Associated Press on Monday.
TBI agents continue to follow up on leads and tips about the two children, but no active searches are ongoing, Helm said.
“The calls and leads tend to decrease as time passes,” she said. “We are getting very few.”
Lamb said she became concerned that the two children were not in the home when forensic evidence teams were unable to find any of their remains even after days of sifting and searching of the home.
“If those children were not in that fire, then my brother died fighting for them,” lamb said. “I honestly believe that the two children were murdered.”
Lamb said donations were being collected at a local church for a reward for information about the children. She said she doesn’t want the public to forget about the ongoing investigation.
The family is planning a public event Dec. 22 at the site of the destroyed home.
“I don’t want Chloie and Gage to be forgotten,” she said. “Someone knows where those children are.”
New Revelations In Case Of Missing Bedford Co. Children
Posted: Jul 03, 2013 7:24 PM EDTUpdated: Jul 03, 2013 11:49 PM EDT
by Nick Beres
BEDFORD COUNTY, Tenn. – There is new information that could help explain what happened to the two Bedford County children who went missing after a fire destroyed their home last September.
The fire completely gutted the home and claimed the lives of Leon and Molli McClaran and their pet poodle. Investigators could find no sign of their grandchildren, 9-year-old Chloie and 7-year-old Gage, who were supposed to be sleeping in the bedroom just across the hall.
“It’s a mystery,” said Kristin Helm, spokesperson with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Helm said crews searched the charred home for days, but never found any remains of the children. For that reason, they are classified as missing. Nearly a year later an Amber Alert remains in effect for the children.
“The TBI still has an active open investigation case file on their whereabouts,” said Helm, who added it will stay that way until they are found.
Sheriff Randall Boyce said there are those who believe the children were taken from the scene and are still alive. Investigators said they never developed any suspects or leads that the children were anywhere else.
“Do I think they burned up in the fire? I do,” said Boyce, who said he hopes he’s wrong.
Many wonder why remains were discovered belonging to the grandparents and even the family pet dog, but not the children.
“Now the pet that was found was underneath the woman’s body,” said Boyce.
Her body helped shield the dog from the heat of the fire.
Sheriff Boyce said the floor of the home collapsed in the blaze, sending the grandparents and possibly the children into the basement.
“They were in a pit. (It was) a fire pit at that point,” said Boyce.
He estimated the temperatures there topped 1,600 degrees which is on par with the heat used in a crematorium.
The sheriff believed it was even hotter where the children’s bodies fell. For the first time we’ve learned their bedroom was above a storage closet holding more than 30 propane tanks collected by the grandfather. Many could still have had gas inside.
The theory is that when the fire hit the tanks the emergency valves opened to release the propane to prevent an explosion. That sudden burst of burning propane then could have dramatically increased the temperatures around the children’s bodies – enough perhaps to leave nothing but ash.
“Does this type of thing stay with you? You bet. I think about it almost every day,” said Boyce, who said he hopes he’s wrong about the children dying in the fire. He said he will never stop looking for them.
Each month dozens of reports on potential sightings arrive thanks to the still active Amber Alert.
“One day last week three came in from Oregon, Florida and the Carolinas,” said Boyce who added that every report was checked out.
He conceded the most likely scenario is that the children died in the fire. Without any physical proof the search will go on and authorities hope the public continues to provide tips.
“The TBI never closes a case on a missing child,” said Helm.
The children’s family members said to this day they hold out hope Chloie and Gage will still somehow be found alive.
Reward Increased For Information About Kids Missing Since Fire
Posted: Jan 22, 2013 7:18 AM EST
Updated: Jan 22, 2013 12:50 PM EST
BEDFORD COUNTY, Tenn. – A reward has been increased for information about two young children missing since a deadly house fire in Bedford County last year.
There has been no sign of 9-year-old Chloie Leverette or her 7-year old brother, Gage Daniel, since the fire that killed their grandparents, Leon & Molly McClaran in September.
An Amber Alert remains active for the two kids, although the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said they do no suspect foul play. The TBI did not ask any other states to issue Amber Alerts because they simply have no evidence to show the two children were taken anywhere.
Originally, officials thought Chloie and Gage died in the fire, but numerous searches turned up nothing.
Family members of the McClarans, along with friends and neighbors, have now increased the award to $2,000. A $1,500 reward was first announced in November 2012.
Missing kids’ mom insists they’re alive
DAVID MELSON – Shelbyville Times-Gazette (AP)
Posted September 28, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — “I miss my children.”
One year after Cheryl Leverette Daniel’s children were last seen, shortly before a fire that destroyed her parents’ home where they were staying, she holds on to hopes of seeing them again.
Chloie Leverette, 9, and Gage Daniel, 7, haven’t been seen since Sept. 23, 2012, a few hours before the Kingdom Road home of their grandparents, Leon McClaran Sr., 72, and Mollie McClaran, 70, burned.
Partial remains of the McClarans were eventually identified by forensic scientists. No remains of the children have been recovered. They continue to be listed as “missing” by the Tennessee Bureau of Identification.
“We know that the children were not victims of the fire,” Daniel said, naming a long list of law enforcement agencies and forensic specialists that have found no traces of remains.
“I want people to pray for them that guardian angels are watching over them.”
The past year has been hard, Daniel says, after losing two parents and the disappearance of her children.
“Prayer and the Lord have kept me going. It’s enough losing my parents, but for my kids to be missing…We miss our parents, very much so.”
Sheriff Randall Boyce said a year of hoping and searching has been hard on him and his officers as well.
“We’ve lost more sleep over this than anything else since I’ve been sheriff. When it’s children it touches home with all of us guys. I have grandchildren the same age. It touches our hearts.”
His department, along with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, continues the search for answers.
“We’re still getting a few leads from people who think they know something, We still keep looking and hoping something turns up.”
But one grim possibility exists, according to investigators.
“There’s still that possibility that they burned up in the fire,” Boyce said.
Daniel doesn’t see it that way at all.
“They found the bones of my parents and the bones of a bird but no bones of my children,” Daniel said.
“It’s like after people saw the headline ‘4 dead in fire’ they gave up looking for them because they (law enforcement) said they were dead. I don’t want people to give up looking. They were not victims of the fire.”
Boyce understands her feelings.
“We’re going to continue to look. We’re not going to take it for granted that they died. We’re going to continue to look until we find something solid one way or the other.”
Daniel’s hopes remain strong.
“Everyone, please keep looking for them. Don’t give up on them. They are out there somewhere. Call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.”
A reward fund, administered by Regions Bank’s Shelbyville and Eagleville offices, is up to $3,000, Daniel said.