A grand jury in Effingham County has indicted 22-year-old Justin DeRyke on three counts of first-degree murder.
DeRyke is accused of stabbing his 7-year-old niece Willow Long to death on September 8. For each count of murder, he faces a mandatory term of life in prison if convicted.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has taken her brother into protective custody and is investigating Willow's mother.
EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - Family and friends will say their formal goodbyes to a 7 year old southern Illinois girl who authorities allege was stabbed to death by her uncle.
Services for Willow Long of the tiny village of Watson in Effingham County are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Effingham High School, followed by private burial.
Twenty-two year old Justin DeRyke was charged last Wednesday with first-degree murder in Willow's death.
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 home.
DeRyke is being held on $5 million bond and hiring an attorney. He's set to appear again in court Thursday.
The Effingham County state's attorney's office is releasing no information regarding the body discovered last night near where a seven year old girl went missing from her home in Watson, Illinois on Sunday. Authorities and volunteers had been searching for Willow Long when remains were found around 7:30 PM on Monday. There has been no identification of the body and an autopsy is expected to be performed today. According to Fox-2 news, crime scene tape surrounds the little girl's home and the Illinois State Police have assumed control of the investigation. Willow's mother says she was napping when the girl walked out of the house and disappeared.