EFFINGHAM, Ill. - Justin DeRyke pleads guilty to September 2013 murder of 7-year-old Willow Long.
Willow Long went missing on the morning of Sunday, September 8, 2013. Volunteers discovered her body Monday evening. DeRyke was arrested and charged Tuesday morning.
As part of the plea deal, DeRyke, 22, admitted to stabbing Long in the clavicle with a knife with the intention of killing her. He previously claimed Long tripped near a brush pile in the yard and impaled herself while the two were outside playing. DeRyke said he was trying to put his niece out of her misery.
Prosecutors said DeRyke's plea means he will serve the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.