EFFINGHAM, Ill. – The mother of a 7-year-old girl who police say was killed by her uncle has been charged with obstructing a peace officer.
Ciara N. DeRyke, 26, is accused of knowingly obstructing the work of Effingham County sheriff's deputies Sept. 8 during the initial investigation into her daughter, Willow Long's disappearance.
"Ciara DeRyke related to these officers on Sept. 8 that she had observed and interacted with her daughter earlier that same morning," said State's Attorney Bryan Kibler. "We believe that, in making such a statement, Ms. DeRyke was knowingly furnishing false information."
Though a motive for the obstruction has not been disclosed, Kibler emphasized they do not believe DeRyke participated in Willow's murder.
Willow's uncle and Ciara DeRyke's brother, 22-year-old Justin DeRyke, is charged with first-degree murder. He was watching Willow and her 3-year-old brother Saturday, Sept. 7 while Ciara DeRyke went out with friends. He told officers Willow scratched his arm while trying to pull him into the living room to watch television.
Justin DeRyke got upset and started to yell at Willow, who ran outside. He said Willow tripped and impaled herself on a stick, so he grabbed a knife and slit her throat and stabbed her in the chest to end her suffering.
Willow's body was wrapped in plastic bags secured with duct tape, and dumped in a rural area south of Watson, Ill. Her body was found Monday, Sept. 9.
Ciara DeRyke reported Willow missing Sunday morning. She originally said Willow disappeared while she took a 90 minute nap.
Willow's 3-year-old brother was taken into protective custody by Illinois state child-welfare officials.
Ciara DeRyke's bail is set at $75,000. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to one year in prison.
In October, Ciara DeRyke was arrested for possession of a marijuana pipe.