A juvenile has been arrested one day after the body of a missing 10-year-old was discovered near a walking trail.
Iliana “Lily” Peters, from western Wisconsin, US, was last seen by family members on Sunday night (local time).
Her father called police about 9pm after she failed to return home from a visit to her aunt’s house, which is just blocks away, Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm said.
Officers quickly launched a search for the 10-year-old and later discovered a bike believed to be Lily’s near a walking trail close to a brewery.
Early on Monday morning, Chief Kelm said the schoolgirl’s body was found in a wooded area close by.
“At this point we are considering this a homicide investigation,” he wrote in a press release on Facebook.
The chief has declined to say what evidence at the scene led investigators to conclude Lily’s death was a homicide, but said the conclusion was quickly made once her body was found.
Juvenile 'boy' arrested over murder
During a press conference on Tuesday, police revealed a juvenile had been arrested in connection to Lily’s murder.
Chief Kelm denied to provide an age for the suspect but said they were known to Lily and there is no longer a danger to the public, adding “he is in custody”, KSTP reports.
He had previously warned Chippewa Falls residents to “maintain a state of diligence” and increased police patrols around schools at pick-up and drop-off times.
Lily was a fourth-grader at Parkview Elementary School, where an outdoor memorial of flowers, stuffed animals and balloons continued to grow, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The community is “absolutely devastated” by the news of the 10-year-old’s murder, resident Jennifer Barrett told the publication while placing purple ribbons on lamp posts in her memory.
Jeremy Machik, whose children played with Lily often, said he’s “never heard of anything like this”.
“It’s a scary situation when you know … we’re just inside the house … and it’s Sunday afternoon, we’re cleaning and making dinner and that’s going on a block away from our house and it’s scary,” he told KSTP.
A GoFundMe has been created by a family friend to help with the schoolgirl’s funeral expenses.
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