Murdered girl's mother charged with obstruction

By Anna Carrera , Betty Simpson |

Published 12/09 2013 04:12PM

Updated 12/10 2013 06:09PM

Latest: 5:52 pm, 12/10/13, Tuesday
EFFINGHAM COUNTY -- The Watson mother whose daughter disappeared and was found dead in September was in court Tuesday. Ciara DeRyke faces a misdemeanor charge of obstructing the investigation for 7-year old Willow Long.

The State's Attorney says they don't think she was involved in Willow's death. Investigators say DeRyke's brother, Justin, was the one who stabbed Willow to death. But, they say her mom lied when police questioned her the morning after.

In court, it was learned the same attorney representing her for another case will represent her in this one as well. Sources say investigators believe she was lying when she told them she saw Willow that morning with her younger brother. But, at that point, Willow was already dead. They say this could be because she was trying to look like a better mother. Police say they don't think DeRyke knew her child had been murdered, but she wasn't being honest with them.

DeRyke's bail has been set at $75,000, which the State's Attorney says is higher than usual. He says it's because they had to spend extra time and resources on the search which could have been avoided if she'd told the truth.

DeRyke is set to be back in court next week. She could face up to a year behind bars. The State's Attorney says more charges in connection with this case could be possible, but at this point, it's unlikely.

DeRyke was also facing drug charges in Shelby County. She pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor in court on Monday. She will need to pay a $750 fine. 

Her brother's trial is scheduled to start next month, but attorneys say it may be longer than that before it happens.
Update: 10:02 pm, 12/9/13, Monday
EFFINGHAM COUNTY -- People in Watson are shocked to hear about the latest arrest in the Willow Long murder case. It comes just as wounds are starting to heal. The 7-year old's mom, Ciara DeRyke, was arrested Monday. Investigators say she lied to police. Now people wonder why. WCIA-3's Megan Brilley talks to one of DeRyke's friends.

Authorities say DeRyke told police she saw Willow the morning of her murder, but sources say she was already dead.

"She was the best mom I've ever known."

Melissa Kuhajda says she and the 26-year old were inseparable.

"We hung out almost everyday and we did everything together."

But, over the past couple of years, they lost touch. The next thing she knew, her old friend was making national headlines.

"I could never imagine anything like this happening."

DeRyke's daughter, Willow Long, was dead and police say DeRyke's brother, Justin, murdered her.

"I wish she would've called me and reached out to me."

Now, months later, DeRyke is back in court. Investigators say she was arrested in the 200-block of East Fayette Avenue. They say DeRyke told them she saw and talked with Willow in their home, but sources say that's impossible because she'd already been murdered.

"Why would you lie? My first reaction was, 'I can't believe that somebody I knew for so long that was around my kid did that.'"

Investigators don't believe DeRyke knew about Willow's murder. Kuhajda is sad to see someone she was once so close with in jail, but at the end of the day, all she cares about is justice for this little girl.

"We miss you, Willow."

DeRyke's bond is set at $75,000. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, she faces up to one year in prison.

DeRyke's brother, Justin, was arrested in September for stabbing Willow to death. He's being held on $5 million. He pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say his trial could start next year.
Original: 4:12 pm, 12/9/13, Monday
EFFINGHAM COUNTY -- The mother of 7-year old Willow Long, who was murdered, faces charges of obstructing a peace officer. 26-year old Ciara DeRyke was arrested about 2 pm, Monday, by Illinois State Police.

Authorities say she knowingly obstructed two deputies during the initial investigation into her daughter's disappearance. Investigators say when DeRyke told officials she had spoken with Willow earlier in the morning on September 8, she knew she was providing false information.

In a press release, the State's Attorney and police state they do not believe DeRyke took part in Willow's murder and was not aware of her murder at the time she spoke to investigators.

Her bail was set at $75,000. She's due in court Tuesday morning to be arraigned on the Class A misdemeanor, which punishable by one year in jail.

DeRyke's brother, Justin DeRyke, is charged with Willow's murder. She was stabbed to death. Police say Justin DeRyke admitted killing the girl.

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