The 12-year-old brother of a girl stabbed to death in their Calaveras County home encountered his sister’s killer moments after the crime, according to media reports.
Eight-year-old Leila Fowler’s older brother was the first to discover her body inside their family’s Valley Springs home after the Saturday stabbing, the Associated Press reported.
The boy saw his sister’s killer before the suspect ran off, the AP reported. The boy called 911 for help after finding his sister.
The assailant was described as a white or Latino man, about 6 feet tall with a muscular build, last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and blue pants, authorities said.
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department issued an update Sunday night to the case:
“The search for a suspect in this case has continued overnight and through the day today,” the department said. “Overnight, sheriff’s detectives and members of the California DOJ Bureau of Forensic Services executed a search warrant at the home where the homicide occurred.
"Evidence was collected at the scene including fingerprints and what investigators believe is DNA. At this same time, detectives were conducting follow-up interviews with witnesses and family members.”
Police said more than 100 law enforcement officers are on the case.
Authorities were conducting a door-to-door sweep of homes, checking storage sheds and horse stables and searching attics.
“It is a difficult area to search. It's rural, remote,” sheriff's Capt. Jim Macedo said.
The grisly murder has put the quiet community of 3,500 on edge.
“A lot of us here are used to keeping our doors unlocked, our cars unlocked,” resident Connie Brodie told the local CBS station. “I’m sure a lot of families last night locked all their windows, locked all their doors for the first time.”
According to Fox40 in Sacramento, Mark Campbell, the school district’s superintendent, said in a statement Sunday:
“As we all grapple with the tragic and senseless loss of one of our own, we do so knowing that we will be ready to do what is necessary to provide a safe environment for students and for staff, and to stand unified and strong as we provide whatever level of support and assistance that is necessary to help the family, our students, our parents and our staff process the unthinkable.”
Campbell added that counselors would be on hand at Jenny Lind Elementary, Toyon Middle School and Calaveras High School. There will also be an added law enforcement presence at Jenny Lind Elementary and nearby bus stops, according to Fox40.
Leila was reportedly one of seven children in her family, KCRA-TV reported.