Updated: Uncle arrested after missing Illinois girl’s body found

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The body of a small child was found near an Effingham County, Illinois community where a seven-year-old girl vanished.

Willow Long reportedly wandered away from her home while her mother was asleep Sunday morning, September 8, 2013. The girl reportedly lived with her three-year-old brother, her mother, an uncle and her grandparents.

Although police reportedly said they did not initially suspect foul play, Willow’s mother and uncle were reportedly held for questioning.

Hundreds of volunteers helped search for Willow in and around Watson, Illinois.

Our sister station KTVI reports the evening after Willow disappeared, Illinois State Police took over the investigation after volunteer searchers found a child’s body south of Watson around 7:30 p.m.

The search for Willow Long was suspended as of Tuesday, September 10 and investigators confirmed the body was Willow Long.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, September 10.

At a news conference held Tuesday, police announced Willow’s uncle Justin DeRyke was arrested in connection with her death.  Effingham County State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler said his office would file a charge of first-degree murder against DeRyke.

Justin DeRyke

Justin DeRyke