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VALLEY SPRINGS (CBS/AP) – Authorities in Calaveras County say the slaying of an 8-year-old girl at her home does not appear to have stemmed from a botched robbery or other crime gone wrong.
According to the Modesto Bee, Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz said it appears the unknown intruder intended to attack Leila Fowler.
Kuntz spoke at a hastily called news conference on Monday night.
Investigators say that nearby sex offenders are being investigated, but wouldn’t reveal whether Leila was sexually assaulted.
Authorities say Leila was fatally stabbed at her home in Valley Springs on Saturday. The girl was found by her older brother who told deputies that he had encountered a male intruder in the home.
Authorities have issued a vague description of a suspect but have not been able to identify the man.
“At this point, there is no specific suspect,” said Calaveras County Sheriff’s Dept. Cpt. Jim Macedo.
Two witnesses reported seeing a man in blue jeans and a dark shirt running away from the home. The description reportedly matches the description given by Leila’s brother.
“We did collect some fingerprints during that search and we also collected to what we believe to be DNA,” said Macedo.
Macedo said on Sunday Leila’s brother, 12, is not being ruled out as a suspect.
“He’s not a suspect at this time, but we are continuing to talk to him,” said Macedo.
Some Valley Springs residents are afraid it could happen again.
“I’m terrified cause you never know, it could happen to anybody,” said one boy.
After door-to-door sweeps proved fruitless, law officers urged residents to lock their doors and keep a close eye on streets and yards for the man.
“This is such an open area and this person could be anywhere,” one woman said.
The suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male with long gray hair. He is 6 feet tall with a muscular build and was last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and blue pants.
Deputies from the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office on Monday were deployed outside Jenny Lind Elementary School as classmates of the victim, Leila Fowler, returned to school.
A class of sixth-graders placed ribbons outside to remember Fowler, a third-grader.
Calaveras Unified School District Superintendent Mark Campbell issued a statement Sunday saying, “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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.