EFFINGHAM, IL – Illinois State Police and Effingham County Officials today announced the arrest and charges of Justin D. DeRyke, 22, of Watson, Illinois.
On Tuesday, September 10, 2013, at approximately 5:55 a.m., Illinois State Police Zone 7 Investigations placed Justin D. DeRyke, 22, of Watson, Illinois, under arrest for the murder of Willow Long, 7, of Watson. Mr. DeRyke is the maternal uncle of the deceased child.
An autopsy being completed by Dr. John A. Heidingsfelder, forensic pathologist, has confirmed the identity of the body of a child found Monday evening by volunteer searchers south of Watson to be that of Willow Long. All indications are that the death is a homicide. The autopsy is ongoing and is being facilitated at St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham. The Effingham County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois State Police continue to investigate the matter.
The Effingham County State’s Attorney’s office will file First Degree Murder charges against the defendant on Wednesday afternoon in Effingham County Circuit Court, pending the possibility of additional charges to be filed later.
The defendant’s initial court appearance will take place on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, at 1:00 p.m., on the second floor of the Effingham County Government Center, 120 W. Jefferson Ave. in Effingham, IL.
*Statements made herein are based upon probable cause. The defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.