A suspect detained in the slaying of a 10-year-old western Wisconsin girl was expected in court Wednesday afternoon for a bond hearing.
The juvenile was to appeared in adult court in Chippewa County, but prosecutors have not yet filed a criminal complaint in the case, according to the Chippewa County District Attorney’s Office.
Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matt Kelm has classified the death of Illiana “Lily” Peters as a homicide and said she knew her attacker. Her body was found Monday morning near a walking trail in the city. She disappeared Sunday after leaving an aunt’s house located blocks away.
Kelm announced the arrest of the suspect Tuesday evening. The chief initially declined to reveal the juvenile’s age or gender, but during a news conference he referred to the minor using a male pronoun.
“While nothing will bring Lily Peters back or change what happened, we are very grateful to be able to deliver this news for the family and for the community,” Kelm said.
Earlier Tuesday, police executed a search warrant at the home of Lily’s aunt and the last place the girl was seen before she disappeared. Kelm said the search warrant was for “information tied to the killing.”
Police from local, state and federal agencies have been working 24 hours a day since the girl was reported missing, Kelm said, thanking the many law enforcement agencies and neighboring police departments that have been assisting.
Kelm also thanked the community for more than 200 tips that were provided to law enforcement and were “critical” to the investigation.
Residents dressed in purple to honor Lily, and purple balloons and “Justice for Lily” banners could be seen around the community of about 13,000. People left drawings, flowers, candles and stuffed animals at Lily’s elementary school and on a downtown bridge.
Chelsea Torgerson kept her daughter home from school Tuesday.
“Just for my own peace of mind, I wanted to keep her home,” Torgerson told the Star Tribune. “I know these things happen in the world every day, but this is just so close.”
Torgerson’s daughter, 8-year-old Ava Johnson, attends Parkview Elementary School — the same school where Lily was a fourth-grader.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” Torgerson said.
Chippewa Falls is approximately 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of the Twin Cities.