Committee wants to name park after 7-year-old girl allegedly killed by uncle

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on September 23, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 23 at 6:17 PM

(KMOV) – A Watson, Ill. resident is a part of a committee proposing to name a city park after a 7-year-old girl who was allegedly stabbed to death by her uncle earlier this month.

DeAnna McWilliams told News 4 the committee met on Saturday to discuss the possibility of “Willow Park,” which would be named in memory of Willow Long.

According to McWilliams, the city has already agreed to allow two acres on the north side of the Civic Center to be used for the park. They hope to raise enough money to redo a jungle gym already there as well as buy new equipment.

Committee officials hope to have the park open in time for Memorial Day weekend. McWilliams said those on the park committee hope the space will be a place for everyone to come together after the tragedy that rocked their town.

Click here to see photos of Willow Long and the scene of her search

A park fund has been started at Fifth Third Bank at 200 E. Jefferson in Effingham. Checks can be made to “Willow Park Fund.” McWilliams estimates the improvements and building of the park to cost $75,000.

The committee meeting comes just days after Long’s uncle, 22-year-old Justin DeRyke, pleaded not guilty to her murder.

 

He is accused of stabbing long after she allegedly fell on a pile of sticks that impaled her neck. DeRyke told prosecutors he stabbed her to “end her suffering.”

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