SHARECOMMENTMORE

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

California investigators stymied by the weekend stabbing death of an 8-year-old girl in her home say they believe the attack was intentional and are seeking a DNA sample from a man arrested Tuesday during the alleged attempted kidnapping of a 15-month-old girl in the region.

Leila Fowler, a third-grader at Jenny Lind Elementary in Valley Springs, Calif., was killed Saturday. Her brother told officers he encountered an intruder in their home who then fled on foot.

The suspect was described as a muscular, 6-foot male with long gray hair, wearing a black shirt and blue pants. Another possible witness has offered a somewhat different description, complicating attempts to put together a composite drawing.

Officials said Calaveras County investigators found no signs of an attempted robbery or other property crime at the Fowler home but have not established a motive for the attack. They did recover fingerprints and likely DNA sample at the scene.

Investigators have asked for a DNA sample from a man arrested Tuesday in Placerville, 45-miles north of Valley Springs, after allegedly trying to kidnap a baby girl from her mother's arms. Placerville police said the mother wrestled the child back from the man before police arrived.

"We thought from the outset that there were similarities (with the Fowler case) in that a stranger entered a resident with the intent, we believe, to harm a child," Placerville police Capt. Mike Scott told KXTV.

Calaveras County sheriff's Sgt. Christ Hewitt tellsThe Modest Bee that there is no specific lead tying Leila's attack to the kidnapping attempt, but that authorities are interested in recent cases in the area involving crimes against children.

The grief-stricken residents of Valley Springs, with a population of 3,500, turned out for a candlelight vigil Tuesday in memory of Leila.

Leila's family delivered tearful messages to hundreds of people who turned out at Leila's school, KXTV reported.

"I'm not saying goodbye to Leila. I'm saying see you later," Leila's oldest brother Justin Fowler said.

"I want to thank the community for support you've given our, my family," Leila's mother told to the crowd.

Kalea Rigara, 8, of Stockton, said she was Leila's best friend. "Her smile, her personality -- she was beautiful," Kalea said. "I love her."

Parents, shocked by the brutal slaying, have kept doors locked and their children indoors.

"It hits home. I think that's why everybody is here," resident Leslie Stonefield said.

SHARECOMMENTMORE