Fowler murder details emerge

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat /

The Calaveras County Sheriff's Office on Monday released more details about an investigation into the slaying of Leila Fowler, the 8-year-old girl who was stabbed in her Valley Springs home Saturday.

The Sheriff's Office said law enforcement officials continued to search for the killer and contacted nearly every registered sex offender in the area.

A helicopter continued to patrol the area surrounding the Rippon Road home on Monday, and law enforcement officials asked residents for identification before allowing them to pass barricades, said Julie Hall, who lives on the 5900 block of the street.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Jim Macedo said the California Department of Justice has prioritized the case to expedite the processing of evidence, which includes fingerprints and possible DNA found at the home on the 5000 block of Rippon Road.

He said he hopes to submit more evidence today.

Fowler's parents, Barney Fowler and Crystal Walters, held each other as they stood in front of dozens of people at a press conference Monday. They declined to speak to the crowd, but Macedo said they plan to give a statement today.

Parents on Monday spontaneously visited Jenny Lind Elementary School, where Fowler was a third-grade student, to give hugs or tie purple and pink ribbons to trees on campus. Purple and pink were Leila's favorite colors.

Students wrote notes to Fowler and took turns hanging them on the fence at the school's entrance.

Law enforcement officers provided security at the school and will continue to do so until the case is solved, Calaveras Unified School District Superintendent Mark Campbell said.

Also on Monday, the Calaveras County Coroner's Office completed Leila Fowler's autopsy. She died of shock and hemorrhage due to multiple stab wounds.

The Coroner's Office declined to disclose the number of stab wounds and suspected weapon.

The crime was reported about noon Saturday. According to Macedo, the victim's parents phoned dispatchers after their son, 12, called and told them there was an intruder in the home.

The parents were at a baseball game nearby when they received the call.

The boy briefly pursued the intruder, who then fled the scene, Macedo said. The boy and the intruder did not have any physical contact, he said.

The 12-year-old went back inside the home and found his sister seriously injured. She was taken to Mark Twain Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Macedo said investigators are not sure if the killing was random.

He said he was not aware of other police calls at the address since the family had moved in.

The Sheriff's Office had still not drawn up a sketch Monday because they don't want to mislead the public, Macedo said.

The Sheriff's Office received a suspect description from the 12-year-old boy and a similar description from a neighbor who saw someone flee the area around the time of the homicide.

A third description was provided by someone who saw a suspicious person in the area a few days before the crime, Macedo said.

The Sheriff's Office has given the following description of the person they are looking for: A man, about 6 feet tall, with long gray hair and a muscular build. He was seen wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and blue pants.

More than 100 law enforcement officials from several agencies have worked on the case.

A memorial fund has been created for Leila Fowler at Farmers & Merchants Bank of Central California at 18836 E. Main St. in Linden.

A candlelight vigil will be held at 7 tonight at Jenny Lind Elementary School.

Parking and shuttle services will be available at Good Samaritan Church at 4684 Baldwin St. in Valley Springs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

11900875
The Union Democrat
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