Justin DeRyke faces three charges of first-degree murder

2:21 AM, Sep 12, 2013   |    comments
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EFFINGHAM, Ill. (KSDK) -  Details surrounding the death of 7-year-old Willow Long came to light Wednesday as her uncle stepped into the courtroom for the first time.

Justin DeRyke faces three charges of first-degree murder, according to the Effingham County State's Attorney office, which filed charges Wednesday. Willow's body was found Monday evening by volunteers.

DeRyke said that Willow's mother went to a restaurant and bar Saturday night, and he was left in charge of her and her 3-year-old brother.

DeRyke said she grabbed him and scratched his arm, while trying to pull him into the living room to watch TV. He got upset and began yelling at Willow, he said.

She then ran outside and tripped, impaling herself on a stick, he said. DeRyke said he grabbed a knife and tried to end Willow's suffering by cutting her throat and stabbing her in the chest.

DeRyke told investigators that he wrapped Willow's body into several plastic bags and secured those bags with duct tape. He told investigators that he then dumped the body in a rural location just south of Watson. 

Autopsy results released Wednesday afternoon show that Willow's throat had been slashed. In addition, a three to four inch laceration had been found on her collarbone, as well as a smaller stab wound to the collarbone area, which was fatal. Cuts were also found on Willow's hands, which investigators say were consistent with being defensive wounds. 

The State's Attorney said the investigation is ongoing.



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