Uncle says he killed Illinois girl to end her suffering

Willow Long

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Effingham, IL (KTVI) — The gruesome details of the murder of a 7-year-old Watson, Illinois girl came to light in an Effingham court room. The state’s attorney said the girl’s own uncle informed police he killed Willow Long to put her out of her misery.

Justin DeRyke has been charged with three counts of 1st degree murder for the death of Willow Long. Now, the Effingam County States Attorney has released a probable cause statement in the case. A timeline of events surrounding the death of Willow Long has come to light according to interviews by police with the suspect and immediate family of the victim.

WARNING:  The details of this story are extremely graphic. Please proceed reading with caution.

State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler said, “It’s with much sadness that we’re here today.” And he began detailing the case.

Murder suspect Justin DeRyke admits to killing Willow Long in an interview with police. He said it was to end her suffering after Willow impaled herself on a stick. He said she tripped after a chase. But, details like defensive wounds and watching porn are suspicious. Right now, authorities have only released the interviews and murder charges.

Dale and Deborah DeRyke live with their son Justin DeRyke, daughter Ciarra DeRyke and her children Willow Long and Nathanial Graves at a home in Watson, IL.

Grandparents Dale and Deborah DeRyke are truck drivers. They were on the road on the evening of September 7th to haul a load out of state. The children’s mother went to a bar that evening at around 8pm and left her two children in the care of their uncle, Justin DeRyke.

Illinois State police re-interviewed Justin DeRyke on Monday. He said he spent most of the evening playing video games with friends online. At 10:30pm he went to the bathroom to watch a pornographic video for a half hour. Justin was walking back to his bedroom from the bathroom when Willow tugged on his forearm and asked him to watch television with her.

According to Justin DeRyke the tug that Willow gave him scratched his skin, it started to bleed. He became angry at the sight of blood and started to yell at the 7-year-old. He said that she ran out of the home towards a brush pile. She tripped and got a stick impaled in her neck. He said she then began to twitch on the ground.

Justin DeRyke then said he had to end her suffering. He said he went into his bedroom, grabbed a knife and went to where Willow was laying. DeRyke said he slit the girl’s throat and stabbed her in the heart about five times.

He then wrapped Willow’s body into several plastic bags and sealed them with duct tape. He took her body to a rural location south of Watson. That is where searchers found it.

Kibler said, “This is a very sad for each and everyone one of us maybe the most heartbreaking event ever to happen in this county’s history.”

People who joined the search for Willow came to the courthouse to learn what happened, and they were shocked by what they heard. Gina Wiesike said, “I thought it was disgusting.  I was crying.  I almost lost it.”

An autopsy was performed on Willow Long’s body at St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham, IL. It revealed that the body’s throat had been slashed, and there was a stab wound around the child’s neck. In addition, she had defensive wounds on her hands which don’t coincide with Justin’s story. And there’s no mention of her being stabbed by a branch. The preliminary autopsy determination is that the death was a homicide inflicted by a knife.

Another resident Margie Morton said, “Just devastating, what other word could I use for that.” Kibler added, “We can confidently state there is no one else who’s a person of interest and the community is safe.”

It was also revealed instead of joining the search for his niece, Justin went to work an hour early. There are still many questions according to several news reports Willow’s mom supposedly saw her Sunday morning and went back to bed, but Willow was killed Saturday night. Authorities did not clear up that discrepancy. Also, it’s not clear if a rape test was done during the autopsy.

Justin DeRyke’s case goes to the grand jury Wednesday. He’s due back in court the next day.

DeRyke is being held on $5 million bond. He will be hiring his own defense attorney in the case.

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