Couple charged with murder in 11-year-old son’s death

TUCSON, AZ – On Wednesday, Tucson Police apprehended a mother and her boyfriend following the suspicious death of an 11-year-old boy who was under their care. The couple, 29-year-old Charles Jackson McClellan Jr. and 33-year-old Ariel Lea Horn, are now facing charges of first-degree murder and child abuse.

In November 2023, the Tucson Police Department attended an emergency at a residence on the 900 block of E. Limberlost Dr., following reports of an unresponsive child. Upon arrival, firefighters from the Tucson Fire Department confirmed the death of the 11-year-old boy.

The state of the child’s home compelled detectives from TPD’s Child Physical Abuse Unit to keep the investigation open until conclusive information could be obtained from further interviews and reports.

The boy had multiple health problems rendering him entirely dependent on his caretakers. He resided with his mother, her boyfriend, McClellan, and three other siblings.

According to the autopsy report, the child was found to have extensive wounds on his lower body and suffered from sepsis. The investigators concluded the sores had been largely due to negligent attention to his health by Horn and McClellan. Investigators added that the household was found to be extensively involved in the use of the drug fentanyl.

As a result of their findings, detectives were able to substantiate charges against the couple and made the arrest on May 1, 2024. Subsequently, McClellan and Horn were taken into custody, booked into the Pima County Jail, each held on a $1,000,000 bond, per Tucson Police.