Calaveras girl remembered with pink, purple and prayers

local@modbee.comApril 30, 2013 

— Well more than 1,000 people turned out Tuesday evening at Jenny Lind Elementary School to honor Leila Fowler, a bright, vibrant third-grader who was fatally stabbed over the weekend in her Rancho Calaveras home.

Mourners held candles and wore Leila's favorite colors of purple and pink during the vigil held on the soccer field. Pastors led prayers, and Leila's family shared thoughts about the beloved child, but the gathering otherwise was largely silent and somber.

The slaying has shocked residents of Rancho Calaveras and nearby Valley Springs. The foothills towns are along Highways 12 and 26 about 30 miles east of Stockton.

Calaveras County sheriff's Sgt. Chris Hewitt said in a phone interview that investigators don't have a motive but found no signs of an attempted robbery, burglary or other property crime.

Hewitt said Calaveras County investigators have asked Placerville police for a DNA sample from a man arrested Tuesday in the kidnapping of a 15-month- old girl. Authorities arrested Jason Wayrynen, 44, of Camino, just north of Placerville. The girl's mother wrestled the child from the kidnapper before police and El Dorado County sheriff's deputies arrived.

Hewitt said Calaveras investigators have no information that leads them to believe Leila's slaying and the Placerville incident are related. He said it's good police work to check on other crimes against children in nearby jurisdictions while investigating a child's slaying. Placerville is about a 90-minute drive north of Rancho Calaveras.

Leila was attacked Saturday in her Rippon Drive home in a hilly, rural neighborhood of large homes on typically one-acre lots. Her 12-year-old brother was home. Authorities have said he encountered the attacker, who fled on foot, and then discovered his sister had been attacked.

The Sheriff's Department has released limited information on Leila's killer. They have described him as a Latino or non-Latino white man, 6 feet tall and muscular. He last was seen wearing a black, long-sleeved shirt and blue pants. Hewitt said that's because of conflicting information provided by the brother and two other Rippon Drive residents who saw a fleeing man. But Hewitt said investigators may bring in a sketch artist in an attempt to develop more definitive information.

The Sheriff's Department asks anyone with information to call a tip line at (209) 754-6030. The line had received 215 tips as of Tuesday afternoon.

Modesto Bee staff writer Kevin Valine, Modesto Bee staff photographer Elias Funez and The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.

Modesto Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service