(KMOV) – The mother of a girl allegedly killed by her 22-year-old uncle was arraigned in court Tuesday on charges she obstructed the murder investigation.
Ciara DeRyke, 26, said few words during her appearance in Effingham County Court wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles on her ankles.
During the arraignment, the judge explained her obstructing a peace officer charge. If convicted, she could be fined up to $2,500 and spend up to 364 days in jail.
Her next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 19 at 10 a.m.
DeRyke was arrested Monday after authorities say she lied during the initial investigation into the Sept. 8 disappearance of her daughter, 7-year-old Willow long. Her charges came hours after she pleaded guilty to a drug paraphernalia charge stemming from an Oct. 14 incident and fined $750 plus fees.
“Ciara DeRyke related to the officers that she had observed and interacted with her daughter earlier that same morning,” said State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler. “We believe that, in making such a statement, DeRyke was knowingly furnishing false information.”
Kibler on Tuesday told News 4’s Laura Hettiger she was given a $75,000 bond because of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the case. He said had she made different statements, it would have saved hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars due to the cost of airplanes and everyone involved in the search for Long.
Kibler said he is very confident Ciara was not involved in Long’s death, but made false statements to "make her look like a better parent."
Ciara’s drug arrest came about five weeks after her Long was allegedly killed by Justin DeRyke at her home in Watson.
Justin DeRyke was last appeared in Effingham County court on November 25 for a pre-trial hearing on three counts of first-degree murder charges. He has been in jail on a $5 million bond since Sept. 10 after he was charged. He pleaded not guilty to the charges during an arraignment on Sept. 19.
Officials say the trial could be delayed and likely won’t begin until 2014.
Police said the body of Long—who was reported missing on Sept. 8--was found by four search volunteers in an area south of Watson around 7:30 p.m. near the Little Wabash River a day later.
According to court documents, DeRyke told officers he was home alone watching Long and her brother when the alleged incident occurred. Police said Ciara DeRyke was at a local bar and her grandparents were out of town.
DeRyke told police he spent most of the evening in his room playing video games. When he left the room to go to the bathroom, he said Long tugged on his arm and asked him to watch a movie with her. During the exchange, DeRyke said the girl accidentally scratched his arm, causing it to bleed.
He reportedly got upset and yelled at Long, which caused her to run into the front yard. According to his statement, DeRyke said she then fell on a brush pile, causing a stick to impale her in the neck.
DeRyke said he wanted to end her suffering.
Prosecutors said he then slit her throat before stabbing her in the heart and throat. Police said DeRyke put the girl’s body in a plastic bag; duct taped it and dumped it in the Little Wabash River.
According to police, an autopsy concluded Long’s throat had been slashed. She also had stab wounds on her collarbone and neck as well as defensive wounds on her hands.