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  • Elias Funez / Modesto Bee file

    A Calaveras County deputy questions a motorist April 28 near Valley Springs. Leila Fowler was killed April 27.

  • Leila Fowler was killed in her home on April 27.

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Brother of slain 8-year-old arrested in Calaveras County

Published: Sunday, May. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 16, 2013 - 10:21 am

The brother of 8-year-old Leila Fowler, the Calaveras County girl stabbed to death last month, has been arrested for investigation of homicide, the sheriff announced Saturday night.

Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz, speaking at the Valley Springs sheriff's substation, said the girl's 12-year-old brother was taken into custody at 5:10 p.m., according to a webcast of the press conference.

The brother, who has not been named, had told authorities he found his sister with stab wounds at noon April 27 while his parents were away from the house.

Authorities said at the time that the youth described seeing an intruder: a tall man with long gray hair.

For a while, the brother's description had corroboration.

A witness reported seeing the same man, but later recanted her statement.

The boy called his parents, who immediately called 911, sheriff's authorities said soon after word of the crime spread.

A sheriff's dispatcher called the home and talked to the boy until deputies arrived.

The case set off a manhunt and some fear in the Rancho Calaveras neighborhood of Valley Springs, a town of about 7,500 people in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Law enforcement officials went door-to-door in search of the intruder. They searched houses, attics, crawl spaces, sheds and outbuildings.

They asked residents to remain behind locked doors. And they asked for tips from residents. Early on, some 90 tips had been logged.

They also established an around-the-clock roadblock near the home where Leila lived with her father, stepmother and three siblings.

Then, last week, the sheriff suspended regular press briefings and told reporters investigators were making progress.

On Saturday night, Kuntz said officers had worked long and hard on the case,

"We have put over 2,000 hours in this investigation to provide Leila Fowler's family answers to her death," Kuntz said.

"Citizens of Calaveras County will sleep a little better tonight," he said.

"This is still an active investigation," he added. "I will not be providing information about this investigation at this time."

He lauded law enforcement agencies that provided aid to his department in the probe, including the California Department of Justice, the California Highway Patrol, the Calaveras County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Marshall's Office, and sheriff's departments in Amador, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and other counties.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073. Follow her on Twitter @LorettaSacBee. Read her Report Card blog at http://blogs.sacbee.com/report-card/.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Loretta Kalb



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