Leila Fowler, 8, was stabbed to death in her home in Valley Springs, California. (Photo : COURTESY FOWLER FAMILY)
Residents in the quiet neighborhood of Valley Springs, California were shocked after 8-year-old Leila Fowler was stabbed to death in her own home last month. However, they were just as stunned to learn that the suspect charged with the attack is her 12-year-old brother.
"It's just shocking. I don't know what else to say," Patti Campbell, a longtime restaurant owner in the small Northern California community, told The Associated Press.
Leila's brother was the only person in their home at the time of her stabbing death April 27. The boy told police he saw a tall man with long gray hair run from the scene. He said he found his sister's body and encountered the intruder in the home while their parents were at a Little League game. A neighbor also told detectives that she saw a man flee the home, but she later recanted the story.
Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz said authorities spent more than 2,000 hours on the investigation and launched an intense manhunt looking for the culprit.
However, as speculation in the community built that the boy may have been involved, his biological mother told Sacramento television station KOVR her son "could never hurt his sister."
"I've never seen him be mean to her," Priscilla Rodriquez added while speaking to the TV station Friday.
Later that day, police announced that the boy had been arrested and faced homicide charges. Authorities did not further explain what led to the child's arrest.
Police said there was no sign of a burglary or robbery into the home. They also seized several knives from the Fowler home, where Leila lived with her father, stepmother and siblings.