Police have arrested the 12-year-old brother of an 8-year-old girl who was fatally stabbed last month in her rural California home, even though the boy told authorities an intruder broke in and committed the crime.
The unidentified boy will be charged with homicide, Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz told reporters Saturday. Police did not disclose any details about what led them to the arrest.
A day earlier, the boy's mother appeared on Sacramento's KOVR local TV station and described her son as "protective" of his little sister,
saying he "could never hurt" her.
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"They never even used to fight when they were little," said Priscilla Rodriquez. "I've never seen him be mean to her."
The boy told police he found his sister, Leila Fowler, stabbed to death
and had seen an intruder fleeing his Valley Springs home April 27 while the siblings' father and stepmother were out at a Little League game. He described the suspect as a tall man with long, gray hair.
A neighbor corroborated the story, telling detectives she, too, had seen a man running away from the house. The story was later recanted and discredited by police when they could find no evidence of a break-in or robbery.
After more than 2,000 hours of investigation, including door-to-door sweeps of the neighborhood, authorities took Leila's brother into custody Saturday evening.
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The news of the arrest was a blow to the tight-knit community.
"It's bad enough to lose a child.
I can't imagine losing a child by one of my own children," longtime area resident Patti Campbell told The Associated Press.
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