Uncle Arrested in Murder of 7-Year-Old Girl

Sep 10, 2013 3:01pm
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Willow Long, 7, was allegedly murdered by her uncle after she went missing from her home on Sunday (Courtesy Effingham County Sheriff's Department/WICS)

The uncle of a missing 7-year-old girl, Willow Long, is being held on murder charges after the girl’s body was identified today.

Justin DeRyke, 22, was arrested at approximately 5:55 a.m. and charged with first degree murder, police said.

Long had been missing since Sunday morning when she apparently walked out of her home in Watson, Ill., while her mother was taking a nap. More than 300 volunteers, in addition to the FBI, Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, the Watson Police and the Illinois State Patrol came out to search.

Four volunteers located the body in the southern part of Watson on Monday evening. An autopsy today determined that it was Willow Long.

DeRyke is scheduled to make his fist court appearance on Wednesday. A candlelight vigil is also schedule Wednesday evening in Willow’s honor.

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