A 22-year-old man who faces charges after he allegedly killed his 7-year-old niece in Effingham County in September will be
back in court Tuesday morning.
Justin Deryke is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing on three counts of first-degree murder. He’s been in jail on a $5 million bond since Sept. 10 after he was charged in the death of Willow Long. He pleaded not guilty to the charges during an arraignment on Sept. 19.
Deryke’s trial will begin Dec. 2. Illinois State’s Attorney Bryan Kibbler said he will file papers to seek a sentence of natural life in prison.
Police said the body of Long—who was reported missing on Sept. 8–was found a day later by four search volunteers in an area south of Watson around 7:30 p.m. near the little Wabash River. An autopsy showed her throat had been slashed and she had stab wounds and her collarbone and neck, as well as defensive wounds on her hands.