WILLOW’S LITTLE BROTHER TAKEN INTO PROTECTIVE CUSTODY BY DCFSPosted by Jack Howser on Thursday, September 12th, 2013 @ 5:35 pm.
EFFINGHAM CO.—A spokesperson for Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has informed Disclosure that the brother of Willow Long was taken into protective custody on Tuesday.
This is contrary to the claims made by sources in Watson last night, who indicated that the little boy (Nathaniel Graves, corrected from Nathan Grant from earlier reports, is the name we’ve been given, age 3) remained with his father after the incident that resulted in murder charges against Nathaniel’s and Willow’s uncle, Justin DeRyke, 22. DCFS spokesperson Dave Clarkin confirmed the date to us today (Thursday, September 12, 2013).
Clarkin said that DCFS received a report on their hotline on Sunday, Sept. 8 (the night search crews were frantically looking for Willow, who’d been reported missing since that morning according to her mother, Ciara DeRyke) about an “abused or neglected” child at the residence where Willow Long lived, with Willow being identified as the child being reported as abused or neglected. Clarkin confirmed that the investigation was launched into the situation at that time, and the abuse or neglect was attributed to Willow’s mother and uncle (which Clarkin could not identify by name, only by relationship, per DCFS protocol). An initial result of the investigation was to take the little boy (whom Clarkin could also not identify by name nor by age) from the home, this occurring on Tuesday. Clarkin could not confirm the time the boy was taken into protective custody.
Nathaniel’s father, these same sources tell us, is Jayson Graves, 23, who lives in Effingham. When he and Ciara decided to split, and how Nathaniel ended up with Ciara, are facts unknown at this time; there is no Family case in Effingham County court records to indicate that any court action had been commenced over Nathaniel. Disclosure has been able to contact Graves and he has indicated as of this evening that he has no comment on the situation at this time.
For those who are just coming into the story: Willow’s body was found Monday night after an intensive search by hundreds of volunteers in and around the Effingham County village of Watson. Willow’s throat was slashed and she was stabbed several times, with cuts on her arm consistent with defensive wounds, this according to a coroner’s report.
Prior to the court appearance, the house where the series of events that lead to Willow’s death began was the residence of not only Willow and her little brother, but of her mom, Ciara DeRyke, Willow’s uncle Justin, and Willow’s grandparents, Dale and Debra DeRyke, who are over-the-road truckers and were absent Saturday night when the alleged incidents occurred.
When the house (on Circle Drive in Watson) was labeled one of two crime scenes in the initial days of the murder (the second being the “body of water” south of Watson where Willow’s body was found in three trash bags, one inside the other and all duct-taped shut; a third was identified at another location only yesterday), the residents were not released to enter the premises or stay there until that part of the investigation was complete. After the house was released, the residents ostensibly moved back in—this, at least according to our sources who are speaking with family—but the little boy was supposed to have gone with his father. He was then confirmed taken into custody on Tuesday.
Clarkin advised Disclosure of something extremely disturbing: He said that a recent study conducted through DCFS and involving medical, law enforcement, coroner’s offices and DCFS and Attorney General’s officials found that southern Illinois has the highest child homicide rate of anywhere in the state. Cases were studied from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. The task force developed to investigate incidents downstate learned that of the 25 cases they accepted, 12 have had charges filed against them, ranging from felony child endangerment to First Degree Murder.
Both Justin and Ciara DeRyke remain under investigation by DCFS for child abuse and neglect in Willow’s case.
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