DeRyke pleads not guilty in Willow Long murder


EFFINGHAM -- The uncle accused of killing 7-year-old Willow Long pleads not guilty.

Justin DeRyke, 22, entered a not guilty plea during his pre-trial hearing Thursday afternoon.  He is charged with three counts of first degree murder and is  represented by a public defender.

Effingham County State's Attorney, Bryan Kibler, wouldn't comment on other possible future charges Thursday.  He said it's still a very active investigation.

"Investigators are still having to interview people and they're still trying to tie up loose ends," Kibler said.

If convicted, DeRyke will serve a mandatory life sentence.  A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for October 22.

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