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Slain 8-year-old girl stabbed multiple times, coroner says

April 29, 2013|By Kate Mather and Joseph Serna
  • A Calaveras County sheriff's deputy detains a driver Sunday on Rippon Road in Valley Springs, Calif., where 8-year-old Leila Fowler was found murdered the evening before.
A Calaveras County sheriff's deputy detains a driver Sunday on Rippon… (Elias Funez / Modesto Bee )

An 8-year-old girl found stabbed to death in her family's Northern California home died of shock and hemorrhaging due to multiple stab wounds, the Calaveras County coroner said.

Leila Fowler was pronounced dead at 1:01 p.m. Saturday after she arrived at the hospital, coroner Kevin Raggio told The Times. An autopsy was completed Monday.

The investigation into Leila's death continued Monday, as authorities scoured the small town of Valley Springs for possible clues. The Calaveras County Sheriff's Office said in a morning update that it had been contacted by the California attorney general's office and the California Department of Justice, which have "prioritized the processing of the evidence taken in this case."

Leila’s body was reportedly first discovered by her 12-year-old brother, who walked into their family home and encountered his sister’s suspected killer.

The assailant was described as a white or Latino man, about 6 feet tall with a muscular build, last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and blue pants, authorities said. Anyone with information is asked to call a tip line at (209) 754-6030.

Authorities launched a door-to-door sweep of homes, checking storage sheds and horse stables and searching attics. A search warrant was served at Lelia's home overnight, the sheriff's department said Sunday.

"Evidence was collected at the scene, including fingerprints and what investigators believe is DNA," a sheriff's statement said. "At this same time, detectives were conducting follow-up interviews with witnesses and family members.”

Authorities said more than 100 law enforcement officers were on the case.

The grisly murder has put the quiet community of 3,500 on edge.

“A lot of us here are used to keeping our doors unlocked, our cars unlocked,” resident Connie Brodie told the local CBS station. “I’m sure a lot of families last night locked all their windows, locked all their doors for the first time.”

Local media outlets reported extra security and counselors at Jenny Lind Elementary, which Leilia attended. Extra counselors were also on hand at Toyon Middle School and Calaveras High School.

According to Fox40 in Sacramento, Mark Campbell, the area school district’s superintendent, said in a statement Sunday:

“As we all grapple with the tragic and senseless loss of one of our own, we do so knowing that we will be ready to do what is necessary to provide a safe environment for students and for staff, and to stand unified and strong as we provide whatever level of support and assistance that is necessary to help the family, our students, our parents and our staff process the unthinkable.”


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