The 911 call from the day 8-year-old Leila Fowler was found stabbed to death in her Valley Springs home was made by the girl's stepmother, who said, "My daughter started screaming."
“My children are at home alone and a man just ran out of our house and my older son was in the bathroom and my daughter started screaming,” a woman told the 911 call operator.
The caller was Leila’s stepmother, Crystal Walters, who was at a Little League game when she called 911, according to CBS Sacramento.
“Did they see the man?” the call operator asked.
“They did see him, yes. My daughter is freaking out right now,” Walters said.
Leila’s 12-year-old brother was home at the time and was arrested on suspicion of murder over the weekend by Caleveras County sheriff’s deputies after authorities said the boy’s story about an intruder brutally stabbing his sister didn’t add up.
The boy told police he saw an intruder commit the crime before the attacker ran off. He called his parents, then 911, officials said. An autopsy determined that Leila died of shock and bleeding as a result of multiple stab wounds.
Later, sheriff’s officials said there was no sign of a burglary or robbery at the house where Leila was found dead April 27. Their pursuit of a suspect the boy described as being tall and gray-haired took them door to door and shed to shed. They also searched two reservoirs.
A witness initially corroborated the boy’s description of the attacker but later recanted the statement. The boy was arrested on a murder charge Saturday at the Valley Springs substation of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department.
Before his arrest, the boy’s mother said he was innocent.
“They never even used to fight when they were little,” Priscilla Rodriguez told CBS Sacramento in an interview on the eve of the boy's arrest. “I would never see him be mean to her.”
Their father, Barney Fowler, said authorities need to show him evidence before he’ll believe that his son is a killer.
“Until they have the proper evidence to show it's my son, we're standing behind him," Fowler told the Associated Press. "If they have the evidence, well, that's another story. We're an honest family.”
The attack drew national attention as authorities searched for the suspect and warned residents to keep their doors locked.
News of the boy’s arrest brought a wave of relief to the rural area southeast of Sacramento, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
"Citizens of Calaveras County, you can sleep a little better tonight," Sheriff Gary Kuntz told reporters Saturday.
Kuntz said Saturday that investigators spent more than 2,000 hours on the case and were helped by numerous agencies, including the FBI and California Department of Justice.
The boy is being held at a juvenile detention facility awaiting charges. Prosecutors said they are awaiting investigators’ reports before they consider charging the boy.