Reporting Nick Janes
VALLEY SPRINGS (CBS13) – It’s a murder that has neighbors living in fear, wondering if the killer will strike again.
Now, a retired FBI profiler says the attack on Leila Fowler likely wasn’t random.
“If it was no one in the home, it was probably someone who’d seen her before and went there to kill her,” said Candice DeLong.
It’s a chilling thought for families living on-edge in Valley Springs. DeLong says the person capable of brutally taking an innocent girl’s life is probably someone who lives nearby.
“Did someone come from far across town, stop their car and randomly go into a house and kill that young girl? Probably not,” she said.
As sick as it sounds, DeLong believes the murder of Fowler may have been sexually motivated. She says there’s a 90-percent chance the killer is someone close to the little girl’s circle of friends, family members or even neighbors.
“(The killer) was either angry enough to want her dead or was trying to have sex with her. She resisted and she ended up dead,” said DeLong.
Fowler’s 12-year-old brother said last Saturday that he saw an intruder running from their home and then found his little sister stabbed. A few days later, though no one was in custody, investigators told the public not to worry for their safety.
“That statement sounded to me like police were trying to telegraph information to the public that they knew who the killer was and that he wasn’t roaming around free,” said DeLong.
She says the brother may be fearful to talk after seeing his little sister’s killer. Calavares County deputies have interviewed the 12-year-old and have repeatedly said he is cooperating and is not considered a suspect.
Adding to the mystery is the neighbor who initially told deputies she saw a man running from the home in the opposite direction as the brother said, and then later recanted her statement.
The question now: Why?
“Maybe the first thing she said was true. She did see someone running from the house and then she found out who it is and thought ‘I don’t want to get them in trouble.’ Or maybe, ‘I’m afraid of him and he knows who I am and where I live, and I could be next,’ ” said DeLong.
She says the neighbor could’ve also fabricated the entire story.
Regardless, deputies told CBS13 on Sunday that they are narrowing their focus and making real progress in their quest to find Leila’s killer.
Dive teams searched two ponds near Fowler’s home, but it is unclear if any evidence was recovered.
Deputies continued canvassing her neighborhood and are also waiting on evidence from the crime lab.