Police downplay link to Calif. girl's death

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A brazen kidnapping attempt in the Sierra Nevada foothills not far from where an 8-year-old girl was stabbed to death in her home most likely is a bizarre coincidence, investigators said Wednesday.

Still investigators in Placerville, Calif., have collected DNA samples from a man who forced his way into a woman's apartment Tuesday and attempted to snatch her 15-month-old daughter.

"It's an absolute shot in the dark, but stranger things have happened," said Placerville police Capt. Mike Scott. "The cases are similar in that an unknown intruder enters a residence with an intent to harm a child."

On Saturday, Leila Fowler was stabbed to death in her home in the Calaveras County town of Valley Springs, about 50 miles from where the attempted kidnapping took place. Investigators say her 12-year-old brother saw the assailant and described him as being about 6 feet tall with long gray hair.

The photo of the kidnapping suspect, Jason Wryrynen, 44, shows jaw-length hair that appears to be light brown. He is being held in the El Dorado County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond.

"Placerville's suspect description does not match the description of our suspect," said Sgt. Chris Hewitt, spokesman for the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office.

So far the boy has not been shown a photo lineup including the suspect, and Hewitt isn't sure whether he will.

But the investigation is ramping up in intensity, and investigators planned to meet on Wednesday with FBI agents.

"We just want to see what assistance they can provide us. What it will be I don't know," Hewitt said.

Already the state Department of Justice has made the processing of evidence in the case the crime lab's top priority. The sheriff's office has cancelled all vacations and days off, and investigators are working more than 16 hour days tracking down the more than 215 tips that have come into a hotline, Hewitt said.

The attack on Leila, a popular 3rd grader at Jenny Lind Elementary School, apparently was random.

There was "no sign of a burglary or robbery and no sign of this being a targeted killing," Hewitt said.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of people gathered at Jenny Lind Elementary School in Valley Springs where Leila's mother, Krystal Walters, tearfully addressed the crowd.

"I just want to thank the entire community and all of our family and friends for all the overwhelming amount of support you've given our family," Walters said. "It will never be forgotten. Thank you."

Print this article Back to Top