Funeral Services Held for Murdered Effingham Co. Girl

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By Associated Press

UPDATED 3:30 p.m. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2013

EFFINGHAM, IL (AP) - The father of a 7-year-old southern Illinois girl who authorities say was killed by her uncle told mourners attending her funeral that she was "wonderful and perfect."

The Effingham Daily News reports Thomas Long was among those who addressed about 150 mourners who attended services Monday for Willow Long at Effingham's First Baptist Church.

Authorities say the girl was stabbed to death a little more than a week earlier near her home in Watson, about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis. Her uncle, Justin DeRyke, is charged with first-degree murder and remains jailed, awaiting a court appearance Thursday.

Thomas Long said during the services that his slain daughter was loved by all.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


ORIGINAL STORY

WATSON, Ill. (AP) - Family and friends will say their formal goodbyes to a 7-year-old southern Illinois girl who authorities say was stabbed to death by her uncle.

Services for Willow Long of the tiny village of Watson in Effingham County Monday morning at Effingham's First Baptist Church, 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.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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