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Slain Northern California girl's brother held in her stabbing death

The killing last month of Leila Fowler, 8, in rural Calaveras County sparked a manhunt after the brother, 12, said an intruder had killed the girl. He will be charged with murder.

May 11, 2013|By Scott Glover, Los Angeles Times
  • Teacher Cecilia Richardson helps a student tie a ribbon in remembrance of third-grader Leila Fowler at Jenny Lind Elementary School in Valley Springs.
Teacher Cecilia Richardson helps a student tie a ribbon in remembrance… (Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo )

Authorities in Northern California on Saturday announced the arrest of a 12-year-old boy in the stabbing death of his younger sister, whose killing last month sparked a manhunt for a supposed intruder who the boy had said committed the crime.

Following a two-week investigation, Calaveras County sheriff's detectives arrested the boy in connection with the death of his sister, 8-year-old Leila Fowler.

The boy, whose name was not made public, will be charged with murder, the county sheriff announced at a news conference, according to the Associated Press.

"Citizens of Calaveras County, you can sleep a little better tonight," Sheriff Gary Kuntz told reporters.

The slaying made national headlines and had authorities warning residents of the tight-knit area where the crime occurred to lock their doors and remain vigilant.

Leila and her brother were home together on the night of April 27 at the family home in Valley Springs, a rural town of 7,500 residents southeast of Sacramento. Their parents had gone to a Little League game.

The boy told investigators he had heard an intruder, then saw a man running away from the home. The boy said he then found his severely injured sister. He called his parents, then 911, officials said.

An autopsy determined Leila died of shock and bleeding as a result of multiple stab wounds.

Her brother's account sent authorities scrambling to find the killer. They fanned out in the rural foothill area, searching indoors and out for any sign of the intruder. Extra patrols were dispatched to the elementary school where Leila was in the 3rd grade and along area school bus routes.

Following "an expansive investigation" that consumed more than 2,000 man-hours, police arrested Leila's brother shortly after 5 p.m, according to a Sheriff's Department press release. As part of the investigation, authorities seized several knives from the home Leila shared with her father, stepmother and siblings to determine if one could have inflicted the fatal wounds.

Kuntz declined to answer questions about what the department deemed "an ongoing investigation."

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