PRESS CONFERENCE: DETAILS ON HOW WILLOW LONG WAS MURDEREDPosted by Jack Howser on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 @ 2:12 pm.
EFFINGHAM CO.—The details of the death of little Willow Long are disturbing and heart-wrenching.
Authorities have revealed these details at the press conference, being held this afternoon in Effingham, about how the 7-year-old, who was reported missing Sunday by her mother, Ciara DeRyke, was found: in a series of garbage bags, submerged in a small body of water in an area south of Watson.
Willow was stabbed multiple times, with multiple cuts on one arm. Her throat was slit.
Our correspondents at the hearing today have learned that the incident occurred Saturday night when DeRyke was left with Willow and her younger brother, Nathan Grant, age 3, at the home Willow shared with her family, at 104 Circle Drive in Watson. The house held Willow’s grandparents, Dale and Debra DeRyke, the two kids, Justin, and Justin’s sister/Willow’s mom, Ciara DeRyke. Ciara was out partying, having left the house at 7 p.m. with only Justin, Willow and Nathan present in the home. Willow’s mother had advised authorities that she didn’t come back from bar-hopping until well after midnight.
Justin Dale DeRyke told authorities that he was in his bedroom most of the night, playing videogames. At some point in time, he “went to the bathroom to (matsurbate) and watch porn.” When he was finished, Willow found him, grabbed his arm to take him downstairs with her to watch TV, and she scratched DeRyke, causing him to bleed. He “got angry and chased her” outside, where she ran to a brush pile and fell into it, impaling herself through the neck with a branch, which according to some accounts actually was driven up into the little girl’s head. Willow, said DeRyke, was “twitching,” so instead of calling 911 or any authorities, he decided to “put her out of her misery.” He accomplished this, he told investigators, by slashing her throat and stabbing her multiple times, attempting to stab her through the heart.
DeRyke then said that he wrapped her body in several garbage bags sealed with duct tape, and dropped her body into a “body of water” (not clarified if it was a pond, creek, or even a bend in the Little Wabash River) located south of Watson, where it was found by volunteers Monday night at about 7:30 p.m. when searchers saw an elbow exposed via a small hole in the bags.
The bags remained unopened until they were transported to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham for an autopsy Tuesday. The probable cause of death, it was learned after that autopsy, was the severing of the subclavial vein in her chest. Cuts across her arms may have been indicative of a struggle, something that doesn’t quite correspond with DeRyke’s story of the child twitching, then the uncle “putting her out of her misery.”
Willow’s uncle, Justin Dale DeRyke, 22, was taken into custody early yesterday morning (5:55 a.m., Tuesday, September 10, 2013) and housed at the Effingham County Jail on a preliminary First Degree Murder charge. Today, in a first advisement of charges hearing set for 1 p.m. in front of Judge Sherri Tungate, DeRyke appeared and the public learned there were three charges of First Degree Murder filed against him formally. These are Class M felonies and are not probationable, with a minimum 20 years DOC on each count if found guilty. DeRyke has no discernible criminal history.
Tungate was advised that DeRyke intends to hire counsel for the upcoming Sept. 19 preliminary hearing set for his case. He remains in the Effingham County Jail on a five million dollar bail ($500,000 cash bond) set by Hungate on the charges. If he is able to post bond—or someone post bond for him—DeRyke is not to have contact with his sister Ciara, the little boy Nathan Grant, or anyone under the age of 18.
More as we get it; keep checking back.
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