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Accused Killer Makes First Court Apperance

Justin DeRyke
Willow Long
Justin DeRyke

An Effingham County man was in court yesterday accused of killing his 7 year old niece.

Prosecutors charged 22-year-old Justin DeRyke with three counts of first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing Willow Long in the chest with a knife Sunday. The little girl’s body was found Monday night near the small town of Watson, where the girl and DeRyke lived. 

DeRyke told police that he chased Willow out of the house on Sunday, she tripped and fell into a pile of sticks and one of the sticks went into her neck.

He said that he wanted to end her suffering so he slit her throat and stabbed her in the heart.

He will be back in court next week.

A judge has given time for DeRyke to hire an attorney.

Reports are that Willow's mother was feeling ill and went back to bed Sunday morning, only to wake up a short time later and find her daughter missing.

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