Ciara DeRyke had previously told police she had made Willow and Graves breakfast on Sunday before going to bed again. She had woken up and called law enforcement to report that Long had gone missing at 10:46 a.m. and Long's glasses were still in the house when she left, which was unusual because Long was extremely near-sighted.
The search by volunteers and law enforcement then began throughout the Watson area, mostly focused on the areas north of Watson. During the search, Justin DeRyke went to his job at a restaurant in Effingham instead of aiding in the search.
Kibler said the body was found by volunteers at around 7:30 p.m. Monday and a small hole in the bag revealed an elbow, with the size of the bags indicating the remains inside might be those of a child. The bags were not opened at the scene and were instead sent to St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital for an autopsy.
The autopsy conducted Tuesday identified the body as Willow Long's and revealed multiple cuts, including a slash across her throat, two stab wounds across her collarbone, one which severed her subclavical vein and was the probable cause of death, and multiple cuts across her arms, indicating that there may have been a struggle. The death was ruled a homicide, most likely as the result of wounds inflicted by a knife or knives. There were no notes in Kibler's statements or in the documents he gave to press indicating evidence that Long's neck had been impaled as Justin DeRyke had said in the interview with authorities.
With the evidence available, Judge Sherri L.T. Tungate ruled probable cause for three counts of first degree murder had been established and set DeRyke's bond at $5 million with the stipulation that he not return to the family's home in Watson, have contact with Ciara DeRyke or Nathaniel Graves and would not have contact with anyone under the age of 18. The sentencing for those charges range from 20 to 100 years in prison or possible life imprisonment.