Kibler Says Ciara DeRyke Had Nothing to Do With Willow's Death

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Published on December 10 2013 4:45 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler Tuesday said Ciara DeRyke was charged as she was since she had nothing to do with her daughter Willow Long's murder or the concealment of the death, but did give false information that affected the way police responded when Willow was first reported missing.

Kibler said authorities feel DeRyke told police on Sunday, September 8 that she had talked with Willow that morning at their home "to try to make herself look like a better mother." The timeline in the case indicates that Willow was murdered on Saturday night, September 7 and the body disposed of before Ciara returned home from an Effingham bar early the morning of Sunday, September 8.  When authorities interviewed her the morning of the 8th, after Ciara had reported her daughter missing, she told police she had talked with Willow and had seen her watching TV in the living room with Willow's little brother.  

Kibler said the information indicated that Willow was missing, which led to a massive manhunt involving many law enforcement resources and hundreds of volunteers.  He said correct information that Ciara hadn't seen her daughter and had last been with Ciara's brother Justin and didn't know where she was could have changed the complexion of the search, saying the investigation could have been "more targeted".

Barry Schaefer, who was earlier appointed by the court to represent Ciara in a juvenile case involving Willow's little brother, was appointed by Judge Sherri Tungate to represent her in this case. The case is next due in court at 10am on December 19.

Ciara DeRyke's brother, Justin, is charged with Willow's murder.  Kibler today said the evidence indicates that Justin DeRyke acted alone in the murder.  Asked whether he could have had some assistance in the concealing the body, Kibler said they're not ready to close the book on that matter.  He restated, though, that there is nothing to indicate Ciara had anything to do with the murder or the concealment of the body.

Ciara DeRyke is being held on $75,000 bond.  Asked about the amount of the bond, Kibler agreed that it is more than usual for a Class A misdemeanor, but said the nature of the case and the costly nature of the investigation justifies the bail.

As for Justin DeRyke, he is next due in court in January with a trial date in February, although Kibler said again today that he does not expect the case to go to court then.