Uncle arrested in death of 7-year-old Willow Long
Police arrested Justin DeRyke, 22, of Watson, Illinois, on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Effingham County's State Attorney's Office.
He is the maternal uncle of 7-year-old Willow Long.
The attorney's office is expected to file charges Wednesday, when DeRyke will make an initial court appearance, the statement said.
Willow's body was found south of the town of Watson.
The girl was watching television with her brothers on Sunday when her mother, who wasn't feeling well, lay down for a nap. When she woke up, Willow had vanished.
When she asked her 3-year-old son where her daughter was, he pointed to the front door.
Willow disappeared between 9 and 10:15 a.m. The second-grader left her glasses at home.
Willow evidently changed clothes before leaving her house. Police said the clothes her mother described her as wearing were found in the family home.
More than 300 volunteers and members of various agencies helped with the search, including the FBI, the Effingham County Sheriff's Office, the Watson Police and the Illinois State Patrol.
No Amber Alert was issued for Willow, as police did not initially suspect foul play.
Search dogs picked up trails around the family property, but there were no other leads. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/10/us/illinois-girl-missing/
The Effingham County Sheriff's Department say they're searching for 7-year old Willow Long of Watson. Police tell us the girl walked away from her home on Circle Drive in Watson Sunday morning after an argument with her mother, and has not been seen since.
Willow is approximately 4-foot tall, and has shoulder-length red hair. She was last seen wearing a long purple shirt, oversize like a nightgown.
If you have seen Willow, or know of her location, please call the Effingham County Sheriff's Department at (217) 342-2101.
Throughout the afternoon Sunday, authorities have been searching the area, coordinating from the Watson Fire Station. Over 400 volunteers have turned out, and are being utilized in a grid-search pattern within a radius of 20 square-miles from Long's home. Volunteers were on hold for a time, so as to not interfere with police dogs, and as an Illinois State Police plane and Air Evac helicopter used thermal imaging to search for the girl.
Effingham County Sheriff John Monnet said, "We don't feel there's foul play, that she just walked off. We're gonna continue until we find her". The Sheriff said, however, "it's been quite a time since she's been missing, and time is not a good thing." Monnet said Willow's mother Cierra Deryke was feeling ill, and was in bed. She got up once to check on Willow and her 3-year old brother, and they were watching TV. She got up later and Willow was gone. She asked her son where Willow was, and the boy pointed toward the front door.
Monnet said Long was wearing a lavendar oversize shirt, bearing the "Betty Boop" emblem. Authorities think she might have gone barefoot. Monnet said tracking dog seemed to indicate she may have traveled toward Effingham, perhaps along the railroad tracks.
At approximately 8pm, authorities say they will begin changing their search pattern. Volunteers had been heading out in teams, being transported on flatbed trucks, vans and pickup trucks. This will change to a more surgical type of search at dusk. , and report instead to the Watson Fire Station for deployment, as the use of FLIER (forward looking infared radar) will begin. Any individuals out searching on their own may be spotted by this radar, and search teams will respond those "hits" on the radar, slowing the search for the girl.
Authorities tell us 10 ATVs with thermal imaging from MABAS fire divisions are en route toassist in the coming night search. Volunteers are still being accepted and requested, and those turning out will need to be equipped for rougher terrain, and lights for night searches.
Searches from the air continue as well, with the ARCH helicopter from St. Louis taking 30-minute turns with the helicopter from Air Evac, searching a 1/2 x 1 mile area, working counter-clockwise from Long's home.
There are numerous people searching on horseback as well, and Cumberland Search and Rescue is sending more horses to assist.
Arcola Fire Department (part of MABAS) has arrived with a light tower.
Effingham County EMA has been notified and is en route.
Effingham City Police Department has personnel on scene assisting in the search.
The Red Cross is on scene providing food and water to volunteers and officials. Individuals have also been donating bottled water and other items to assist volunteers.
Below is a second photo of Willow, without her glasses. When Willow left home this morning, her mother says she didn't take her glasses.
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