After finding a 10-year-old girl’s body in the woods, Wisconsin police launch a homicide investigation
Elizabeth Wolfe and Amanda Musa, CNN
(CNN) — Police in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, have launched a homicide investigation after finding the body of 10-year-old Illiana “Lily” Peters in the woods Monday, the morning after her father reported her missing, police said.
Lily’s father called the police Sunday night when she did not come home from visiting her aunt’s house, the Chippewa Falls Police Department said in a news release Monday. Later that night, officers found a bicycle in a wooded area by a walking trail close to her aunt’s house, said police.
Around 9 a.m. Monday, her body was found in the woods near the walking trail, said police. The Chippewa County Coroner’s Office confirmed the remains were Lily’s.
Officers believe Lily was last seen by family members the night of her disappearance, said the news release. She was supposed to be headed home from her aunt’s house when she disappeared, said police.
Overnight, authorities searched for Lily by going door to door and using K9 teams, the release said. They also used a drone to search the wooded area where her bike was found.
During a news conference Monday, Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm did not elaborate on how the girl was killed or what evidence was found at the scene.
Police are investigating her death as a homicide, Kelm said, adding authorities have set up a tip line for members of the community.
Kelm warned there may still be a danger to the public as authorities do not have a suspect in custody. “The simple fact is that we have not made an arrest in this case, so the suspect is still at large,” he said. “So in that case, we just want to be extra vigilant and make sure that if there are any tips, anyone has any information, to go ahead and call that tip line,” he said.
Police on Tuesday announced an increased presence around Chippewa Falls schools. “We will be increasing our patrol especially during drop-off and pick-up times,” the police department said in a statement.
Multiple agencies are assisting in the investigation, including the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation and the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratories, Kelm said. Lily’s family is working with victim advocates, said Kelm, and the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District, where she attended fourth grade, said in a Facebook post it is “working closely with the police.”