Hundreds of people are expected this evening at an elementary school for a candlelight vigil for 8-year-old Leila Fowler, who was fatally stabbed Saturday in her home in a rural Rancho Calaveras neighborhood, about 30 miles east of Stockton.
Mourners will hold candles in memory of Leila, a bright, vibrant third-grader at Jenny Lind Elementary School. The vigil will be held on the school’s soccer field and feature memorials and ribbons in pink and purple, Leila’s favorite colors.
The slaying has shocked residents of Rancho Calaveras and nearby Valley Springs. The two, close-knit foothills towns are along highways 12 and 26. The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the homicide.
Calaveras County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Hewitt said investigators don’t have a motive in the slaying, but there were no signs of an attempted robbery, burglary other property crime.
Hewitt also said Calaveras County investigators have asked Placerville police for a DNA sample of a man they arrested today in the kidnapping of a 15-month-old girl. Authorities arrested Jason Wryrynen, 44, of Camino, just north of Placerville. The girl’s mother wrestled the child from the kidnapper before officers and 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 in El Dorado County and is about an hour’s drive north of Rancho Calaveras.
Leila was attacked in her Rippon Drive home about noon Saturday. Her 12-year-old brother was home at the time. Authorities have said he encountered the attacker, who then fled on foot.
The Sheriff’s Department has released limited information on Leila’s killer. They have described him as a white man or Latino, 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 Leila’s 12-year-old brother and two other Rippon Drive residents who saw a man fleeing their street. But Hewitt said investigators are considering bringing in a sketch artist in an attempt to develop more definitive information about the suspect.
The Sheriff’s Department asks anyone with information to call a tip line at (209) 754-6030. Hewitt said the line has received 215 tips as of this afternoon.