Valley Springs murder update

By Lenore Rutherford, The Union Democrat April 27, 2013 08:52 pm

Apprehension crept in with the darkness Saturday evening as law enforcement agencies continued searching for the suspect in the killing of a 9-year-old child on Rippon Road.

 

“I won’t feel safe until they have him (in custody), especially now that it’s getting dark.” said Julie Hall, who lives on the 5900 block of Rippon Road, about six houses away from where the murder happened. “There are all kinds of places for him to hide around here.”

 

The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office reported at 3 p.m. that multiple law enforcement agencies were searching the area for a man with longer gray hair, 6-feet tall, with a muscular build, last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and blue pants.

 

Dispatchers said the call came in to the Sheriff’s Office about noon.

 

The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone seeing someone in the area matching his description is urged to report it immediately to the Sheriff’s Office and call 911.

 

Hall said she had been wondering why a helicopter was flying close to the ground, but she didn’t find out what was going on until she left to go to town, about 2:30 p.m. and found her street blocked off and emergency vehicles all over the place.

 

One of the law enforcement officers told her there was a robbery down the street, that a  12-year-old boy who lived there chased the robber off, and when he returned to the house, he found his 9-year-old sister stabbed. The girl was fatally injured, but details were not available at 8 p.m. Saturday about whether she died at the scene or was taken to a hospital.

 

Hall said when she didn’t know the family that lived in the house. When she returned from town, law enforcement officers were hesitant about letting her go back home. “Thank goodness, the battalion chief knew me, so they let me in,” she said. “My husband had a harder time when he came home five minutes later because he was wearing a black shirt and blue jeans, which fit the description of the suspect, except my husband doesn’t have long hair.

 

He convinced officers he lived there by describing his wife and her vehicle, and telling them she was just five minutes ahead of him. 

 

Kimberly Lacasse also lives five or six houses away from where the death occurred. 

 

“We are a really close, friendly neighborhood,” she said, “but that house had been rented a couple of times, and I hadn’t met the family yet.”

 

She said about 6 p.m. that she was feeling a little apprehensive, but was glad there were police cars going up and down the street constantly, and good friends in the neighborhood were all looking out for each other.

 

Chris Donaldson, 19, lives a quarter-mile from the crime scene. He said the helicopter was flying real low Saturday afternoon, and his mom told him to check the property for the suspect, but he didn’t find anything.

 

“It’s pretty quiet around here,” he said. “Mostly, we have car accidents, but not anything like this.”

 

Brittani Swartz and her husband, Craig, live about 400 yards from the crime scene, across a ravine. “It is sad and scary to have something like this so close and in our little town,” Brittani Swartz said. 

 

When she learned what had happened, she felt nervous staying home alone with her son. “I called my dad, and we stayed at his house until my husband got home,” she said.

 

The search continued into the night.