This story was first published on May 11, 2013
After two weeks of searching for a killer described as a man with long gray hair, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department announced an arrest in the gruesome stabbing death of an 8-year-old girl: Her 12-year-old brother, the same boy who reported her death and described the suspect for authorities.
Sheriff Gary Kuntz said officers arrested Leila Fowler's brother at 5:10 p.m. Saturday at the Valley Spring's substation. The sheriff did not explain what caused investigators to determine the boy was a suspect.
A large crowd of residents and media from across Northern California had gathered outside the sheriff's office to hear what he had to say on Saturday. The small rural community east of Sacramento has been on edge since the third-grade girl was found stabbed to death in her bed on April 27 in the small town of Valley Springs. Her brother had been watching her while their parents were out.
Kuntz's words were brief and he did not go into any details. "Citizens of Calaveras County can sleep a little better tonight," Kuntz said.
He concluded: "This is an ongoing investigation. While we know you may have many questions, I will not be providing information about the investigation at this time.”
When he finished speaking, some of the gathered community members applauded.
After Leila was brutally killed, her 12-year-old brother told authorities that he found her stabbed to death at their family's home after an intruder entered the home. He described the killer as a tall man with long gray hair. An extensive manhunt had been conducted looking for the suspect the 12-year-old described. Since then, the sheriff's department and the FBI have canvassed the area around the family's home, and dive teams also searched two reservoirs near the home. Another man's name came up as a possible suspect, and after showing the man's mug shot and sending off DNA samples, realized he was not the killer.
At her funeral, another, older, brother, uttered emotional words about Leila: "I am not going to say goodbye to my sister," he told the crowd. "Only see you later. Up in heaven, make it good for my sister."