• Funeral services scheduled for Willow Long

    by  • September 13, 2013 • News, Obituaries

    Services are set for a 7-year-old southern Illinois girl who prosecutors allege was stabbed to death by an uncle.

    Willow Long

    Willow Long

    Authorities say Willow Long was killed late Saturday or early Sunday near her home in Watson, a small village in Effingham County.

    Prosecutors have charged 22-year-old Justin DeRyke with three counts of first-degree murder in connection with her death.

    Authorities say he told investigators he killed his niece to end her suffering after she accidentally fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck with a stick.

    Willow’s services will be at 11 a.m. Monday at First Baptist Church in Effingham, followed by private burial.

    Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at Effingham high school.

    DeRyke remains jailed on $5 million bail, and is hiring a private attorney.

    Illinois state child-welfare officials announced Thursday they have taken Willow’s 3-year-old little brother into custody, noting that until the girl’s death they had no involvement with the Watson village family.