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TODAY   |  May 12, 2013

Brother, 12, accused of stabbing sister, 8, to death

Authorities have been searching for weeks to solve the grisly killing of a young girl in California. The victim's older brother had said a stranger with long gray hair was to blame, but now, the boy is the one charged with the crime. TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe reports.

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>>> we want to begin with the awful story in northern california . 12-year-old boy arrested in the stabbing death of his little sister , and jenna wolfe has more on that. jenna, good morning.

>> good morning, lester and erica. good morning, everyone. authorities have been searching for weeks to solve the grisly killing. now, the boy is the one charged with the crime. it was a killing that had a california community on edge. an 8-year-old girl named leila fowler stabbed 20 times inside her home. but on saturday, the sheriff announced a stunning arrest.

>> at 5:10 p.m ., detectives arrested leila 's 12-year-old brother at the valley springs substation and charged -- on the charge of homicide.

>> reporter: the crowd gasping as the announcement was made. investigators say leila 's brother originally told deputies he found an intruder in their home, and then discovered his sister bleeding to death. people who know her brother were stunned.

>> i did not want to believe it. i didn't -- you kind of thought so, but it's not something you want to believe.

>> reporter: investigators aren't saying what finally led them to arrest the boy, or if there was a motive. some classmates say he was close to leila , and they never saw a hint of a problem between the two.

>> i went to his place, he went next door to talk to his sister and give her a hug.

>> reporter: after neighbors and residents were warned day after day to be on the lookout for a mysterious intruder, sheriffs said residents should be able to sleep a little easier. the children's parents were away from home when this all happened happened. in the meantime, the local sheriff says this remains an active investigation. lester?