8-year-old stabbed to death on the way to school in rural Calif., suspect at large

8-year-old Leila Fowler was pronounced dead on April 27, 2013, after being stabbed on her way to school in rural Northern California. (Photo: KOVR)

8-year-old Leila Fowler was pronounced dead on April 27, 2013, after being stabbed on her way to school in rural Northern California. (Photo: KOVR)

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(CNN) — Students in a Northern California school district head to class Monday morning under increased security after the weekend stabbing death of an 8-year-old girl.

Calaveras County sheriff’s deputies will be deployed around schools and bus stops.

Leila Fowler was pronounced dead Saturday after her brother found her with “severe injuries” in their Valley Springs home while their parents were nearby at a public event, Calaveras County Sheriff Capt. Jim Macedo said.

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the Fowler family and we are ready to provide whatever support we can to the parents and siblings now and in the future.” Mark Campbell, the school district’s superintendent, said in a statement.
No suspects in girl’s stabbing death

An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, according to the sheriff’s department.

Meanwhile, the family was still coming to grips with their loss.

“We are devastated,” Crystal Walters, Leila’s mother, told CNN via Facebook correspondence early Monday. “She didn’t deserve this. … She was so full of life.”

No suspect named

Word of the killing left neighbors shaken in the community about an hour outside of Sacramento.

“A lot of us here are used to keeping our doors unlocked, our cars unlocked,” Connie Brodie told CNN affiliate KOVR on Sunday. “I’m sure a lot of families last night locked all their windows, locked all their doors for the first time.”

Ryan Wydner, who lives across the street from the Fowlers, said the girl’s death left him feeling uncertain.

“Anything’s really possible at this point,” he said. “What’s the difference between that guy going left and right and coming into my house? I don’t know.”

While authorities said they had “no specific suspect,” they are looking for a white or Hispanic male with a muscular build, about 6 feet tall, wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and blue pants. He is considered to be armed and dangerous, the sheriff’s department said.

Macedo said the boy who found his sister “is not a suspect at this time, but we are continuing to talk to him, which would be normal because he was the last person with the child.” They have not released his name or age.

Detectives continue to track down dozens of leads phoned into a tip line created Saturday, including some leading to other counties, he said.

A search of the family’s home overnight Saturday gave investigators a “substantial amount of evidence,” he said, including fingerprints and what’s believed to be DNA evidence.

More than 100 members of the law enforcement community are working on this case, Macedo said.

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