Published April 28, 2013
California police are hunting for a man after a 8-year-old girl was attacked inside her home Saturday and later died.
The Calaveras County Sheriff's office said that the man was considered armed and dangerous. Calaveras County deputies and law enforcement officials from neighboring counties, as well as California Highway Patrol officers and members of the California Department of Justice, warning residents in the Northern California town of Valley Springs to lock their doors.
He is described as a white or Hispanic male around 6 feet tall, with long gray hair and a muscular build. He was last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt with blue pants.
The office on Saturday declined to release details on the murder.
According to Fox 40, the victim's 12-year-old brother was in the home at the time of the attack and called 911 after seeing an intruder. The girl was found with serious stab wounds and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The county coroner identified the girl as 8-year-old Leila Fowler. Initially she was reported as being 9-years-old, but Coroner Kevin Raggio said Sunday she would have turned 9 in June.
Authorities spent Saturday night and into Sunday conducting a door-to-door sweep of homes scattered across hilly terrain, checking storage sheds and horse stables, and even searching attics.
"It is a difficult area to search, it's rural, remote," sheriff's Capt. Jim Macedo said.
Reverse 911 calls and Nixle mass notifications alerted area residents about the incident and the search for the suspect, officials said.
"I was working on my tractor and a CHP copter kept flying over my house," area resident Roger Ballew, 35, told The Associated Press on Sunday, referring to the California Highway Patrol.
A SWAT team showed up at his house Saturday night and told him to stay inside, Ballew said.
"It was nerve-wracking, I didn't sleep well," he said.
Investigators on Sunday were interviewing several people, but no suspects have been named.
"It's just terrible," area resident Paul Gschweng told Sacramento television station KCRA. "What can I say about it, it's just a tragedy."
The station reported that a neighbor told police that a man was running from the girl's home after the incident.
Valley Springs is a community of about 2,500 people in an unincorporated area of Calaveras County, known as "Gold Country," in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 60 miles southeast of Sacramento.
The county became world-famous in 1865 with Mark Twain's short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," according to the Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.