Published On: Sat, Sep 21st, 2013

Justin DeRyke, Illinois man charged with death of her niece, Willow Long,age 7

Police suspect that a family member killed a 7-year-old girl who went missing earlier this month and the concerns were proven true and now her uncle has been indicted with her murder.

Willow Long

Willow Long

Justin DeRyke, age 22, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Willow Long.

Prosecutors say DeRyke told investigators he killed his niece to end her suffering after she accidentally fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck with a stick near the family’s Watson, Illinois home.

A grand jury indicted DeRyke on three counts in Long’s murder, according to a statement from the Effingham County State’s Attorney’s office.

Each count charges DeRyke with first-degree murder, and he faces a life sentence if convicted, according to the statement.

The criminal investigation is still in its early stages and it’s not clear whether more charges will be filed in the case, Effingham County State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler told Crimesider.

Ciarra DeRyke is also being investigated for abuse and neglect.

DeRyke lived with his parents, Dale and Deborah DeRyke, his sister, Ciarra DeRyke, and Ciarra DeRyke’s two children, reported Fox2 in St. Louis.

Dale and Deborah DeRyke, who are truck drivers, were on the road, reports the station. The children’s mother reportedly went to a bar and left her two children in the care of their uncle, Justin DeRyke.

DeRyke told investigators he was home alone with Willow and her three-year-old brother Saturday night when Willow accidentally scratched him, according to court documents obtained by CBS affiliate KMOX. This reportedly angered him and caused him to yell at Willow which in turn led her to run out of the house and towards a brush pile in the family’s backyard.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.


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