Father of Calif. boy charged with killing 8-year-old sister breaks silence, defends son

8-year-old murder victim's father speaks 2:08

The father of a 12-year-old California boy who is accused of fatally stabbing his 8-year-old sister in April said Monday that he doubts his son could have committed the murder.

“I saw [my son’s] demeanor. I saw the two weeks after that,” Barney Fowler told NBC affiliate KCRA in Sacramento, Calif., speaking publically at length for the first time since his son was charged. “I don’t think he did it.”

The boy, who pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges on May 29, initially told investigators that a home intruder was responsible for the death of his sister — triggering a dramatic two-week manhunt in and around the Northern California town of Valley Springs.

Officers went door to door in search of a tall man with long gray hair who the boy said he startled before discovering his bleeding sister. 

But the young boy, who is not being identified by authorities because he is a minor, was arrested May 12 based on unspecified evidence.

Barney Fowler told KCRA that he was the first person who arrived at the family’s home the day Leila was killed. 

“I went in and carried my daughter’s body out and was gonna take her to the hospital because I felt she was still alive,” Fowler told KCRA.

Fowler said he did not want to go into detail about his grisly discovery, which he made after returning from a local Little League game.

“The little bit I saw that no one else saw, I won’t talk about,” Fowler said, fighting back tears.

The Calaveras County coroner told KCRA that Leila died of shock and hemorrhaging caused by multiple stab wounds.

Fowler and his fiancée, Crystal Walters, told KCRA they still do not have a clear understanding of what occurred in their home the day of the slaying.

“The community wants answers. We want answers. We can’t let anybody know what happened in that house that day,” Walters said. “We don’t know the answers to those questions and we’re the parents.”

“No matter what, nothing’s going to bring my daughter back,” Fowler said.

Teacher Cecilia Richardson helps a student tie a ribbon honoring murder victim, third grader Leila Fowler, at Jenny Lind Elementary School in Valley Springs, Calif., on April 29, 2013. Rich Pedroncelli / AP file