Illinois state child-welfare officials have taken a southern Illinois boy into protective custody after authorities say his 7-year-old sister was stabbed to death by a live-in uncle.
Illinois Department of Children & Family Services spokesman Dave Clarkin says that before Willow Long was killed last weekend, the agency had no involvement with the Effingham County family. The boy is 3.
Twenty-two-year-old Justin DeRyke was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say he told investigators he killed his niece to end her suffering after she accidentally fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck with a stick near the family’s Watson home.
DeRyke is jailed on $5 million bond and hiring an attorney. He’s set to appear again in court next Thursday.
Willow’s services will be at 11 a.m. Monday at First Baptist Church in Effingham, followed by private burial.
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at Effingham High School.