Witness Recants Story About Seeing Suspect In Killing Of 8-Year-Old Leila Fowler

A witness has recanted her statement about seeing a suspect flee from the home where 8-year-old Leila Fowler was stabbed to death.

The witness, who police said is no longer considered credible, had originally provided a description that police said matched what Leila’s 12-year-old brother had seen. The witness recanted her story this week when police called her in to give a description so a composite sketch could be made of the suspect.

“Though this may seem like a setback in the investigation, it is actually a positive result in that it allows the investigators to narrow the scope of their investigation,” said Sgt. Chris Hewitt.

Police believe they have ruled out any connection between Leila’s slaying and the kidnapping of a 15-month-old girl in a town about 50 miles away. Police have a 44-year-old suspect in custody in the kidnapping who will now receive a DNA test, but detectives said it’s unlikely there’s a connection between the cases.

Police added that they believe it was a possible intruder who killed Fowler, and they don’t believe the person came from outside the area.


“I’m scared to death every night,” said Beverly Whitaker, a Calaveras County resident children were friends with Leila and her brother. “I haven’t slept since this happened. I’m up all hours of the night, checking my kids, making sure my kids are safe.”

Police said it appeared the intruder intended to attack the girl rather than her killing resulting from a burglary gone wrong. The local sheriff’s office was checking the list of people on parole and probation for sex crimes, though they described this as a procedural issue and did not call her slaying a sex crime.

Even though the witness recanted her story, FBI investigators are still working with Fowler’s 12-year-old brother about what he witnessed.