A 12-year-old girl died Sunday after being beaten unconscious while baby-sitting five preschool children, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.
Investigators have ruled the case a homicide and are searching for a prowler described by neighbors as being near the house where the girl was assaulted, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Jorgensen said.
The girl was watching the children at a neighbor’s residence in the east end of Stanwood, about 40 miles north of Seattle, on Saturday night and had not been hurt when she talked to her mother by phone about 9:30 p.m., Jorgensen said. “There appeared to be no problems at that time,” she said.
The girl was watching five children from two families. Jorgensen told KIRO Television their parents were out for a birthday celebration.
The girl was found beaten and unconscious and the children were asleep when the adults returned home about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Jorgensen said.
Investigators said none of the children was injured.
Stanwood police responded to the call and were assisted by detectives from the Snohomish County major crimes unit. A canine search of the neighborhood turned up nothing, Jorgensen said.
Detectives canvassed the neighborhood, and several people reported seeing a prowler around the house where the girl was watching the children, she said.
He was described as a white man wearing light-colored clothing, Jorgensen said.
“There was no age description, just that he was a white male,” she said. “That’s the only description we have.”
There was no evidence of forced entry or theft, Jorgensen said.
“Someone either walked through the door or knocked on the door and she opened it,” she said.
The girl, who suffered head injuries, was taken by ambulance to Skagit Valley Hospital before being airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
She was on life support from the time she arrived at Harborview and was pronounced dead at 2:37 p.m. Sunday, a nursing supervisor said.
Authorities did not release the girl’s name. The King County Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy, probably today, Jorgensen said.