SHARECOMMENTMORE

WATSON, Ill. (KSDK) -- A community in Effingham County continues to mourn after a 7-year-old girl first reported missing was later found dead in an apparent homicide.

Now, the Willow Long's grandmother is speaking out.

"She was like my pride and joy,"Debbie DeRyke, Willow's grandmother, said. "When I heard what happened, I balled like a baby, it's like out of a dream."

DeRyke says her sadness goes beyond Willow.

She says her daughter Ciara DeRyke has been stricken with grief and practically in hiding.

"She has been in bed bawling every day," Debbie DeRyke said. "We're trying to keep her protected, she don't want to deal with the media."

Her son, Justin DeRyke is accused of murdering his own niece. She says she's stunned about any involvement from Justin, but didn't jump to his defense.

"We had no idea that maybe our son had some problems," she said. "I don't know, We are asking ourselves over and over was there any signs we might have missed, was there something we didn't know."

She says despite everything happening in her family, the community has been supportive and generous.

A funeral for Willow is scheduled for Monday.

SHARECOMMENTMORE