LOS ANGELES (AFP) - US police have arrested a 12-year-old boy for the murder of his eight-year-old sister, in a case that attracted national media attention and prompted an intense manhunt.
Police were initially searching for an armed intruder for the April 27 murder of Leila Fowler, based on testimony from her brother, who was the only other person home when she was stabbed.
But in a statement released Saturday night, the sheriff's office said they had instead settled on the brother, himself, as their suspect.
"The Calaveras County Sheriff's Office detectives arrested Leila's 12-year-old brother on the charge of homicide," according to the statement. "We have put over 2,000 hours in this investigation to provide Leila Fowler's family answers to her death," added Sheriff Gary Kuntz at a news conference after the arrest.
Fowler was killed while she and her brother - whose name has not been released - were alone at their home in Valley Springs, a rural town at the feet of the Sierra Nevada mountains, southeast of San Francisco.
The brother told police he saw an intruder flee the house and, soon after, found his sister stabbed. He called his parents, who called police, and the girl died in the hospital, according to local newspaper the Sacramento Bee.
Police searched door-to-door for signs of the intruder in an intense manhunt that covered the young girl's school bus route and elementary school, in a case that drew national media attention.
Sheriff Kuntz did not give further details about the case against the brother, saying the investigation was still "ongoing." But he added, "citizens of Calaveras County will sleep a little better tonight."