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Five Year Old Girl Left Wandering Outside Alone Leads Police To Her Slain Mother

Jeffrey Daniels allegedly stabbed his girlfriend Michelle Burns before fleeing with their two children and leaving her daughter from a previous relationship behind.

By Gina Tron

A New Jersey man allegedly stabbed his girlfriend to death and fled with their two kids — leaving the woman's third child to wander around outside and alone.

A concerned citizen called 911 at a little after midnight on Tuesday after they spotted Michelle Burns’ 5-year-old child wandering through her Dumont home’s courtyard alone, according to a press release from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. 

A 911 caller also told police that she had been trying to contact Burns, 36, on her cell phone but that Burns wasn’t responding. That witness said she heard an argument earlier in the evening coming from Burns’ apartment where Burns lived with her boyfriend Jeffrey Daniels, 36.

The caller alleged Daniels later knocked on her door holding two small kids, asking for a ride.

Burns and Daniels had two kids together — ages 6 months and 18 months — according to NorthJersey.com. Burns had a 5-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Jeffrey Daniels P

Police arrived to find the 5-year-old child in the courtyard. While the child was okay, her mother was not.

“Officers entered Ms. Burns’ apartment to conduct a welfare check and found her deceased,” the press release states. “She had been stabbed in the neck with a kitchen knife.”

Daniels was found shortly after in Closter — less than five miles away — where he was trying to knock on the front door of another home, according to the prosecutor’s office. He had his two children with him, who were unharmed. 

Daniels was arrested and charged with murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and endangering the welfare of a child. 

Burns’ sister Nicole Boccellari told NorthJersey.com that her sibling and Daniels had a history of fighting. She said her sister declined to file a restraining order out of fear of Daniels becoming violent.

"It was never a good relationship. It was never a safe relationship," Boccellari said.

Boccellari added Burns had always wanted to make sure that she was safe.

"She always watched over me," she told the outlet. "She was very protective of me. She wanted to be a mom to me. Protect me, guide me, make me feel the best."

The family is taking care of her sister's younger children while Burns' ex is watching over her 5-year-old, Boccellari said.

Boccellari called her slain sister "family-oriented, caring, first to help" and "selfless."

It’s not clear if Daniels has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.