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Uncle Arrested in Murder of 7-Year-Old Girl

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ill.) -- The uncle of a missing 7-year-old girl, Willow Long, is being held on murder charges after the girl’s body was identified Tuesday.

Justin DeRyke, 22, was arrested at approximately 5:55 a.m. and charged with first-degree murder, police said.

Long had been missing since Sunday morning when she apparently walked out of her home in Watson, Ill., while her mother was taking a nap. More than 300 volunteers, in addition to the FBI, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, the Watson Police and the Illinois State Patrol came out to search.

Four volunteers located the body in the southern part of Watson on Monday evening. An autopsy determined that it was Willow Long.

DeRyke is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday. A candlelight vigil is also schedule Wednesday evening in Willow’s honor.

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