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California police search for suspect in fatal stabbing of girl

(Reuters) - Authorities were searching on Sunday for a man suspected of stabbing an 8-year-old girl to death at a home in a northern California suburb, officials said.

Residents of Valley Springs, California, 60 miles southeast of Sacramento, were warned to stay inside their homes with their doors locked as investigators fanned out across the region, hunting for the girl's attacker.

Detectives interviewed potential witnesses, family members and collected fingerprints and possible DNA from the home where the girl was killed on Saturday, but had no specific suspect, the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

The sheriff's office identified the girl as Leila Fowler, 8, and said it expected an autopsy to be performed on Monday. They had previously said she was 9 years old.

Authorities said the girl's 12-year-old brother encountered an intruder in his home on Saturday afternoon and the suspect fled, according to KCRA, a local television news station. The boy then went to check on his sister and found her stabbed. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, KCRA reported.

The sheriff said the suspect was considered armed and dangerous and described him as a "muscular" white or Hispanic man, about 6-feet (1.83-meters) tall with longish gray hair. They said he was last seen wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and blue pants.

The sheriff's office said it had notified the local school district about the case and planned to have an increased presence at the schools and bus stops on Monday.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani and David Bailey; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Jackie Frank and Paul Simao)

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