More than 400 to 500 volunteers, including local firefighters and other first responders from our listening area, have been searching near Willow Long’s home in Watson in Effingham County.
Police say Willow’s mother had a headache and lay down for 60-90 minutes. When she got up and asked where Willow was, Willow’s younger brother, a toddler, pointed at the door.
According to police, no foul play is suspected, so an Amber Alert has not been issued.
Willow is approximately 4-feet tall, and has shoulder-length red hair. Authorities now say the reported description of the clothing that was thought to be worn by Willow is no longer valid. It was initially reported that Willow was wearing a lavender Betty Boop oversize T-shirt, but that shirt has been located in the home. Police now say they now do not have a description of what Willow was wearing when went she went missing from her home Sunday morning.
Due to triple digit heat Monday, the search for Willow was placed on hold, and was to resume at 5 p.m. Monday. Volunteers were being asked to report at the Watson Civic Center, located one block east of the fire station. People wanting to donate items such as bottled water for the searchers, should take those items to the Watson Civic Center.
At 8 p.m. Monday, volunteer civilian searchers would be asked to go in for the night, allowing emergency-trained responders to coordinate the search.
An Illinois State Police Flare Plane, which detects heat, was to be used during the search after 10 p.m., when the ground cools down. No civilian volunteers will be used in the search on Tuesday, say authorities.
As the heat index hovered around 100 degrees, concern remained with the 7-year-old out in the heat and humidity, overnight.
Authorities estimate that Willow could have traveled three miles from her home, and said that’s why the search was initially concentrated in that area. Twenty square miles had been searched as of 5 p.m. Monday.
If you have see Willow, or know of her location, please call the Effingham County Sheriff’s Department at (217) 342-2101.