VALLEY SPRINGS, Calif. – Authorities on Saturday arrested the 12-year-old brother of an 8-year-old girl who was mysteriously stabbed at her home in a quiet Northern California community last month.
Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz told reporters at a news conference that the boy will be charged with homicide.
The April 27 attack shook the tightknit Valley Springs community of about 7,400 people and set off a massive manhunt. The boy had told police that he encountered an intruder in the home and described the man as being tall with long gray hair.
Investigators did a door-to-door sweep of houses, storage sheds and horse stables scattered across oak-studded hills. Divers also searched two nearby reservoirs in search of clues.
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.
A neighbor who told detectives she saw a man flee the Fowler home later recanted the story and was discredited by police.
Several days after the killing, hundreds of people gathered at Jenny Lind Elementary School where Leila was a popular 3rd grader.
Her mother, Krystal Walters, tearfully thanked the crowd for the support. "It will never be forgotten," she said.