Prosecutor: Uncle arrested in death of niece, 7

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Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A southern Illinois prosecutor says officers have arrested the uncle of a girl whose body was found a day after she went missing.
   
Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler says he expects to file first-degree murder charges Wednesday against 22-year-old Justin DeRyke.
   
Kibler says DeRyke was arrested about 6 a.m. Tuesday in the death of Willow Long. The girl's body was found Monday night near their 730-resident village of Watson. Authorities have said the girl vanished Sunday from her home while her mother napped.
   
The prosecutor says in a statement that an autopsy Tuesday positively identified the body as Willow. The statement did not indicate what caused Willow's death.
   
It's unclear if DeRyke has an attorney, and he doesn't have a listed home telephone number.

Earlier story:

WATSON, Ill. (AP) - Authorities say they've found the body of a child as they search for a missing 7-year-old southern Illinois girl who disappeared this weekend.
   
Investigators in Effingham County aren't saying whether the body found about 7:30 p.m. Monday belongs to Willow Long. She was last seen Sunday at her home in the 730-resident village of Watson. The body was found just south of the tiny community.
   
An autopsy was planned for Tuesday morning.
   
Authorities say the girl's mother discovered her daughter was missing after taking a 90-minute nap. When she got up, Willow's toddler brother pointed at the door.
   
More than 400 volunteers, using infrared detection equipment, dogs and all-terrain vehicles, searched for Willow on Monday.
   
Watson is about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis.

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