California authorities continue to search for a man they say killed an 8-year-old girl in her Valley Springs home, as investigators announce they may have DNA evidence from the crime scene. KCRA's Claire Doan reports.
The sheriff in a Northern California county where an 8-year-old girl was stabbed to death has vowed to catch her killer.
“We will not rest until we capture the responsible person,” Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz said at a televised news conference on Monday.
Leila Fowler's parents, Barney Fowler and Krystal Walters, were scheduled to speak, but appeared too distraught to do so.
The girl and her 12-year-old brother were home alone on Saturday afternoon in Valley Springs when she was killed, NBC affiliate KCRA reported, citing school district superintendent Mark Campbell, who met with the parents. The parents were at a Little League game in the small town at the time of the attack, Campbell said.
An intruder, described as being a white or Hispanic man, six feet tall and muscular, ran away after being spotted by the brother, and the boy then found his injured sister, police said.
The county coroner told KCRA that Fowler died of shock and hemorrhaging caused by multiple stab wounds.
“We also want to report that members of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s office, California State Patrol, and Calaveras County probation department have nearly completed contacting and in many cases searching all known registered sex offenders and parolees in the area where this crime took place,” said Sgt. Chris Hewitt, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
The young girl’s parents appeared at the Monday news conference, standing well away from the cluster of microphones on the dais.
They held hands, with Walters leaning against Fowler’s arm.
When Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Macedo turned to ask if they wanted to speak, Walters covered her mouth, began crying and turned away, resting her head on her husband’s shoulder.
Macedo said they had wanted to ask that the media respect their privacy and to announce that a memorial fund had been set up for their daughter.
Meanwhile, police were saying little more about the case itself, apart from noting that a witness had reported seeing a man who fit the description given by Leila’s brother of the man he encountered in the family home.
As state and local authorities continued searching for the killer, residents of the small town expressed shock and a sense of worry that the man might still be in their midst.
"Nobody is staying alone," parent James Barci told KCRA.
Barci, a truck driver, who is a volunteer at Jenny Lind Elementary School, where Leila was a popular third-grader, added: "I told my work I'm not coming in, and I'm just going to have all of my kids' friends at the house until this is over."
NBC News’ Matthew DeLuca contributed to this report.