$5 million bond set for uncle accused of killing 7-year-old niece

EFFINGHAM — Justin DeRyke, Willow Long’s uncle and the man accused of killing her was given a $5 million dollar bond at his probable cause hearing Wednesday.

In a packed courtroom, Effingham County State’s Attorney Brian Kibler said interviews with DeRyke Sunday and Monday led to his arrest. One of the primary leads in proving probable cause was DeRyke going to his job at a restaurant in Effingham instead of aiding in the search Sunday. Kibler said in further interviews with the Illinois State Police, DeRyke had told investigators he was watching Willow Long and her brother on Saturday night at the family home at 104 Circle Drive, Watson, while their mother was at a bar. At about 10:30 p.m., DeRyke left his bedroom where he had been playing video games all night and had entered the bathroom to masturbate. After leaving the bathroom, Willow Long grabbed his arm to bring him downstairs but scratched him. DeRyke said he was angry and chased Long out of the house, where she fell into a brush pile and a stick impaled her through the neck. DeRyke then told investigators he “believed he had to put her out of her misery” and slashed her throat.

DeRyke said he would be seeking to hire an attorney. Judge Sherri L.T. Tungate ruled that probable cause had been determined and set a $5 million bond. Kibler also asked for the stipulation that D Ryke not be allowed to return to the family’s home in Watson or to have contact with Ciara DeRyke, her son or any people under the age of 18. DeRyke will have a preliminary hearing on Sept. 19.