Willow Long: Justin DeRyke, Uncle of Stabbed Girl, 7, Says He "Had to End Her Suffering"

Categories: News

willow-long.jpg
Willow Long.
Justin DeRyke, the 22-year-old Illinois man accused of murdering his seven-year-old niece Willow Long, allegedly stabbed her to death because he "believed he had to end her suffering."

That's the story he told cops, according to a disturbing probable-cause statement from the Effingham County State's Attorney's Office. DeRyke is facing murder charges in the death of the young girl, who went missing on Sunday from her home, sparking a massive search that ended in tragedy on Monday evening near Watson, which is about 100 miles east of St. Louis.

The statement outlines a confession DeRyke made to police, allegedly telling them that the girl tripped and fell into a brush pile, causing a stick to impale her in the neck. He told cops that he wanted to put her out of her misery and thus repeatedly stabbed her to death before dumping her body, the charges say.

See also: Macala Shelton: Missing Missouri Girl Stabbed To Death, Found In Abandoned Farm, Cops Say

The case of Long's disappearance first started getting attention when cops initially reported that she vanished from their home while her mother was taking a nap.

The charges, which include graphic details from her autopsy, offer a timeline of the search and how police ultimately discovered Long's uncle was allegedly responsible for her death.

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Justin DeRyke.

Long lived at a residence in Watson with her mother, her three-year-old brother, her uncle DeRyke (her mother's brother) and her maternal grandparents.

On 10:46 a.m. Sunday, the mother first called 911 to report that the girl was missing. She told cops that her daughter left without her glasses, too, stating, "Willow has very poor eyesight and...would seldom leave the house without her glasses," the statement says.

Several hundred volunteers began searching on Sunday, and Illinois State Police dispatched planes and helicopters to help in the search.

DeRyke, however, did not assist others in the search.

Instead, he went to his job at a restaurant establishment in Effingham -- showing up one hour early.

Police learned from initial family interviews on Sunday evening that the grandparents, who are over-the-road truck drivers, had left Saturday evening to haul a load outside of Illinois. Long's mother was out at a local bar Saturday night as well, police say.

DeRyke was alone with Long and her brother.

willow-long-missing.jpg
via Facebook / Missing Willow Long

On Monday, DeRyke gave police his account of what happened and how the girl died.

He allegedly told cops that he spent most of that Saturday night in his bedroom playing video games, but that at one point, he went to the bathroom and masturbated to a pornographic video.

After spending 30 minutes in the bathroom, Long came up behind him and tugged him on the forearm to ask him to watch television with her, the statement summarizes of his comments to police.

At this point, the girl apparently scratched his forearm causing him to bleed:

He became angry at the sight of blood coming from his forearm....

The Defendant then started to yell at Willow Long. Subsequently, Willow Long ran out of the front door of the residence toward a brush pile where the DeRyke family dumps the cat litter. Justin then chased after Willow.

[A]ccording to the defendant, while running away from Justin toward the brush pile, Willow Long tripped and fell into the brush pile causing a stick to be impaled into Willow's neck.

While the stick was impaled in Willow's neck, Willow began to twitch while lying on the ground, according to the Defendant.

He believed "he had to end her suffering," the statement says, prompting him to grab a knife from his bedroom and slit her throat. He then allegedly stabbed her in the heart about five times.

At this point, he took her body and wrapped her in plastic bags before driving to a rural location south of Watson and dumping the deceased girl, cops say.

The autopsy concluded that her throat had been slashed and that she had a three- to four-inch laceration on her collarbone. Cuts were also found on her hands, "which were consistent with being defensive wounds."

It's unclear why the mother initially told cops that her daughter went missing Sunday morning when she had actually been gone that evening, according to the charges.

Police say she returned home from the bar after midnight.

Here's footage from KSDK-TV (Channel 5) which interviewed the grandfather of Long, father of the suspect:

And here are the full charges, with names of other family members redacted:

Pc Statement

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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63 comments
Allyssa Conroy
Allyssa Conroy

All we can do is be grateful that her soul is free of any suffering and away from this world of cruelty.

Abraxas
Abraxas

One thing I have thought since hearing both the girl's mother and grandfather corroborating the cover-up story is that this might be more than just a case of a sick uncle abusing his niece on one occasion... Maybe Willow's own mother was a victim of incest/rape and there is more dark truth to be uncovered about this family.  I wouldn't be surprised if her mom and uncle were both abused by WIllow's grandfather... 

Whatever the truth may be, may God have mercy on Justin DeRyke's soul, because I have none.

Leslee Brown
Leslee Brown

I don't believe this guys story for a minute and I also don't believe the mother had nothing to do with it. Yes Kevin it is very sickening. At least this poor baby is safe from those monsters now

Domani
Domani

So the poor kid falls and a stick is in her neck but instead of dialing 911 he decideds to go back into the house and get a knife from his bedroom and end her suffering.  How sick and disgusting is that?  We'll never know if she could have been saved.  The initial injury may not have been fatal but what he did certainly was.  More likely she caught him whacking off and he probably wanted to finish with her and she ran away from him because of that! 

Emily Miller
Emily Miller

He looks inbred, definitely been molesting this girl, she fought back, he killed her. Hope his prison time is enjoyable. Maybe an inmate will 'accidentally' stab him in the neck for being a pedophile.

Greg Hahne
Greg Hahne

This is the same comment this idiot makes on every single post!

Kristin Scudder
Kristin Scudder

Oh yeah, this must be Obamas fault. Had another wet one about him last night I see??

Roger Griggs
Roger Griggs

when i see that innocent little face it really makes me want to get my hands on her uncle, what a piece of crap.

Kim Hayes
Kim Hayes

Michael, he can confess to the police and still plead not guilty at trial. Until declared guilty in court, they have to say "alleged" or they're committing liable.

Ashley Newport
Ashley Newport

It looks like she has such a beautiful soul! Love her eyes and smile.

Michael Mytzlplyk
Michael Mytzlplyk

I like that. He confessed and you still say "alleged" What the hell has journalism come to ?

Rachael King
Rachael King

^ Kellie hit the nail on the head. Her theory would def explain any scratches on his hands. I bet the three year old could have come up with a more convincing story that the asshole baby killer did.

Jeff Willett
Jeff Willett

'Like' an article on Facebook just means you are following it.

ThatsMyTattooo
ThatsMyTattooo

Oh no! Not another accidental-on-purpose-mercy-killing defense! Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce created a monster via the soft plea & lazy sentence given to killer Kevin Beindorff on a recent similar case. Perhaps the accused in this case followed Beindorff's case & was aware it had 'worked for that guy'. Wonder if this guy will get more than the whopping "7 years, 75% requiring satisfaction, 1.5 served included" kind of hunky-dorey deal she handed Beindorff with a smile & pat on his head? "He was doing her a solid favor" huh? The same kind of 'favor' Beindorff supposedly gave Pellegrini. Didn't the public warn CA Joyce we'd see more of this sort of defense to violent crimes if she didn't rethink the deal on Beindorff's case? It was called to her attention, she responded, so she was well aware of the implications, of setting a precedent. What price do we put on a life? Why does the age of the victim matter? Killing a breathing human being is ending a life, whether its that of a kid or an elderly person, a prostitute or a drug dealer, a teacher or a doctor. Classism, ageism, sexism, all the ism's will be brought into this case just like the last. Commenters are already calling into question the mother & family situation. None of that will change the fact these men ended a life with intent. Does the "type" of intent really matter? Are we to take the sole word of the accused without any supporting evidence?

How can mercy be used as defense? Unless you get several witnesses, a few contracts, and are in a hospital, have a living will, you don't get to play Dr. Kevorkian. How we've allowed this as defense based on the sole words of the accused is severely, seriously shortsighted, if not downright stupid. "He asked me to, but I didn't think it would go off, though I knew it was loaded & after we disposed of the shell casings we discussed throwing his body in the river & we only got caught while trying to dump & roll at the ER" isn't much different than the  "defense" in this sad, tragic story.

http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2013/08/matthew_pellegrini_kevin_beindorff_sentencing.php

Sonny Peterson
Sonny Peterson

Mental illness is no joke and not to be played with.

Robyn Stieve
Robyn Stieve

He is one sick individual AND a pathological liar...........I hope he burns in hell...........that poor baby......... :(

Rachel Roach
Rachel Roach

I agree with you 100%, that whole family lied about EVERYTHING, they all know what really happened..

Crystal Rolfe
Crystal Rolfe

Why the hell are some people "Liking" this article?? Sad world

tmarkbiz
tmarkbiz

Dalediversity, you sound like a child-hating , pedophile .... You're either trolling, which is sick and sad enough or you are a lowly piece of shit soon to end up dead or in jail like this child killing pervert fuck.

Melissa Cameron
Melissa Cameron

Yea, I'm thinking sex crime here. The fact that he stated he masturbated first is a big red flag to me. If you have kids, know your family members ppl. The stats are high that child molestation/abduction is happening inside or close to the fam. This is such a disturbing story, so sad. The mom's story does sound like cover up.

Leslee Brown
Leslee Brown

I am interested to hear the rest of the autopsy findings. I think he either had been or just that one time sexually abused this poor baby and she fought back and he killed her to keep her quiet. I would imagine he has a juvi record somewhere with similar crimes on it. I hope he gets some prison justice because he does not deserve to live. The mother obviously knew along with the grnadfather, so both of them are a total waste of oxygen. I pray that the 3 yr old boy has been removed from that house of horrors

Kellie Sage Hurst
Kellie Sage Hurst

However morbid it sounds they need to go back to drawing and quartering for these types if offenders. These Sick people need something to be afraid of to deter them from hurting children. We are in a bad way in this world regarding child crimes. Something has to make an impact enough to Change this. It's getting worse everyday.

Rob Bieser
Rob Bieser

That story doesn't make any sense!

tmarkbiz
tmarkbiz

Unfathomable.... cant hardly read that shit.  What a total piece of shit.  Mom should have known better.... kids first, self second..... i just dont know... party some other time... now she will never get to hold that little girl in her arms again, because she wanted to go out late and run around.  It makes me sad for that poor lil girl and the lil guy that lost his sissy.  Disgusting.

Bambi Zj Baker
Bambi Zj Baker

Wow so she wasnt sleeping she was at a bar leaving her child alone with this monster.....the plot thickens

dalediversity
dalediversity topcommenter

It sounds like the child was misbehaving and this was a tragic accident. 

tmarkbiz
tmarkbiz

She didn't fall on shit... He tried to rape her or did rape her and she fought back.... He got angry and tried to kill her.... The "stick in throat" story is fuckin dumb... He jammed a stick through her neck after he killed her... It's fairly obvious he said he whacked off bc they will find his DNA on her.... Gotta think thru the bullshit of these morons and their "stories/alabis"

Greg
Greg

@Michael Javert They have to legally smart guy.

julie.peterson1
julie.peterson1

@Kellie Sage Hurst Punishment does not deter deviant sadists with no impulse control. I feel a personal desire for vengeance but as a culture I hope we are more rational and prudent than that.

Domani
Domani

@dalediversity Exactly how bad could a child have misbehaved to warrant what he did to her.  Sounds like you have a few screws loose. 

ynotcraig71
ynotcraig71

@dalediversity Really!!! Did you read the article at all or follow this story? She had defensive wounds on her hands, she was alive enough to try to fight for her life before this POS murdered her in cold blood, slitting her neck and stabbing her in the chest up to 5 times. That is no accident!

scndesign
scndesign

@dalediversity Even if the part about her tripping and falling into a brush pile were true, You don't slash a child's throat and then stab her 5 times in the heart out of mercy. Here' s an idea: Call an ambulance.

s0cajulie
s0cajulie

@dalediversity @triciastlker3  This guy is a troll. Just click on his name and you can see all the stories he comments on. Just a punk kid messing around because he has no life. Makes him feel good about his self. No one at home gives him attention so he has to write bogus stuff to get people angry. You know what they say about brats that are always bugging you....Ignore him and he will go away. 

scndesign
scndesign

@dalediversity @scndesign  Right... So  rather than, you know, help her or call / yell / run / drive the logical next step is obviously to get a knife and stab her to death and then DUMP THE BODY... Really??

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