Shelbyville Daily Union

Local News

September 12, 2013

Uncle appears in court for niece's death

SHELBYVILLE, IL. —

Bond was set at $5 million Wednesday for Justin DeRyke, the uncle accused of murdering 7-year-old Willow Long, in a probable cause hearing that revealed gruesome details surrounding her death.

In a packed courtroom, filled with family, volunteers and members of the press, Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler said interviews with DeRyke Sunday and Monday led to his arrest. He said interviews with the family revealed Ciara DeRyke, Long's mother, had left her home, at 104 Circle Drive in Watson where she lived with her parents, Dale and Debra DeRyke, as well as the defendant Justin DeRyke and her children, Long and 3-year-old son Nathaniel Graves. She went to a bar at about 7 p.m. Saturday, leaving Justin DeRyke to watch Graves and Long. She would not return home from the bar until after midnight.

In interviews with Illinois State Police investigators Monday, Justin DeRyke said he had been in his bedroom playing video games for much of the night before leaving his room to go into the bathroom. Upon leaving the bathroom, Long grabbed his arm to bring him downstairs to watch television and scratched DeRyke's arm, drawing blood.

DeRyke said he was angry at seeing blood and chased Long. She fled the house and ran to a brush pile. She fell into the pile and was impaled through the neck with a branch. DeRyke said Long was twitching and he "believed he had to put her out of her misery." DeRyke then said he took a knife from his bedroom, knelt beside Willow, slashed her throat and stabbed her multiple times, aiming for the heart, before wrapping her body in garbage bags, sealing them with duct tape and putting the body into a 1997 White Pontiac Montana minivan. He then dropped the body in a body of water south of Watson.

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