(VALLEY SPRINGS, Calif.) — A manhunt for a suspect considered “armed and dangerous” is underway in California after 8-year-old Leila Fowler was found stabbed to death in her home.
Leila Fowler and her 12-year-old brother were home alone in separate rooms on Saturday when the boy told police he found an intruder in the home, according to ABC News’ Sacramento affiliate KXTV.
The 12-year-old called his parents, who alerted sheriff’s deputies. The intruder fled and the boy found his sister with severe injuries, according to KXTV. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio confirmed to ABC News that Fowler had been stabbed, but declined to elaborate regarding her injuries.
“She was a beautiful little girl,” her grandmother Robin Walters tearfully told ABC News.
“I just hope and pray they find him,” Walters said. “Nobody should have to go through this.”
Law enforcement agencies are searching for a suspect described as a 6-foot-tall man with a muscular build. He was last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and blue pants. The suspect is considered “armed and dangerous,” according to police.
Police have been searching Fowler’s home in Valley Springs, Calif., a rural town 60 miles southeast of Sacramento, and the surrounding areas.
“We did collect some fingerprints during that search and we also collected what we believe to be DNA,” Calaveras County Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Macedo said at a news conference. “We’re searching extensively into attics and storage sheds. It is a difficult area to search.”
The area has a lot of empty homes and rocky areas.
Police said Leila’s brother is not a suspect at this time, but they have been interviewing him.
“We are continuing to talk to him, which would be normal because he was the last person with the child,” Macedo said.
Schools in the area were open Monday with an increased level of law enforcement presence at schools and bus stops. Counselors and support staff were available at the schools.
On Saturday, residents were warned to lock their doors and be on high alert for any suspicious activity.
Authorities are also asking for any information on anyone who may have left town unexpectedly after the crime or has unexplained injuries, according to an alert on the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office website.
Anyone with information is asked to contact a tip line at 209-754-6030.
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