EFFINGHAM, Ill. — A man accused of killing his 7-year-old niece told police investigators he "put her out of her misery" after she ran from him and was impaled by a tree branch.
The courtroom was packed in this central Illinois town Wednesday as 22-year-old Justin DeRyke made his first court appearance. His bond was set at $5 million.
He is accused of killing 7-year-old Willow Long while babysitting her and her 3-year-old brother late Saturday night. Long’s remains were found Monday night, wrapped in plastic bags and tape, in a body of water south of Watson, Ill.
DeRyke told police he spent most of the evening in his bedroom playing video games, prosecutor Brian Kibler said during the court hearing. DeRyke said he went into the bathroom to masturbate and watch pornographic films. When he left the bathroom, the girl grabbed his arm to bring him downstairs to watch television, and scratched him, drawing blood.
Kibler said DeRyke told police that he was angry and chased Long. She fled the house and ran to a brush pile, where she was impaled through the neck with a branch.
DeRyke said Long was twitching and he "believed he had to put her out of her misery," said Kibler. DeRyke then slashed her throat and stabbed her multiple times before wrapping her body in garbage bags, sealing them with duct tape and dumping her body.
Kibler, who is the state's attorney for Effingham County, said the body was found by volunteers at around 7:30 p.m. Monday. An autopsy revealed multiple injuries including a slash across her throat, two stab wounds across her chest bone, and multiple cuts across her arms, indicating that there may have been a struggle.
Details for this story were reported by The Effingham (Ill.) Daily News.