Valley Springs, CA — A witness who told Calaveras County Sheriff’s Officials she saw a man running from Leila Fowler’s house the day the eight year old was murdered is now refusing to cooperate with police. Yesterday the witness met with police and a sketch artist, but abruptly recanted her statement.
Sgt. Chris Hewitt says, “This person had earlier provided a description of the person on two separate occasions. The witness also stated she saw the man running in the opposite direction from the direction that Leila’s 12 year old brother had provided initially. During the composite sketch meeting the witness recanted her previous statements and her identification of the man she saw running. She also refused to provide a description to the sketch artists so that a composite could be completed. We have determined that she is no longer credible.”
No charges will be pressed against the witness. Hewitt calls this twist a positive for their investigation as it will be one less lead to track down and narrows the scope of the investigation.
Hewitt says, “We don’t know what the witnesses’ state of mind is and it doesn’t appear she recanted because of a fear for her safety.” Investigators are still working on getting a composite sketch of the suspect from Leila’s brother.
Also today, investigators continued to search the Fowler house in hopes of finding any evidence to solve her murder.
Hewitt says, “We still have the house secured under the search warrant as it is a continual process of looking for evidence because it is a large piece of property and there is a lot of bare land surrounding the house, so we want to make sure we cover all the bases and expand our search out from the house to make sure we haven’t missed anything.” Hewitt says the FBI is assisting at the crime scene, but he would not say exactly what they are doing.
Detectives have received nearly 300 tips since the investigation started on Saturday. They are continuing to follow up on leads including the kidnapping suspect arrested in Placerville on Tuesday. Yesterday, they conducted interviews to find out if 42-year-old Jason Wayrynen who tried to rip a 15 month old baby girl from her mother’s arms had any connection to the Fowler homicide. Sheriff’s Officials say though DNA samples were taken from Wayrynen, detectives have determined it unlikely that there is a connection between the two crimes.
Click here for an earlier story on the tip line for the Fowler homicide.