CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (AP) — A 10-year-old girl who went missing after going to visit an aunt was found dead Monday along a creek trail in downtown Chippewa Falls, police said.
Iliana Peters’ death was being pursued as a homicide, Chief Matthew Kelm said.
Police began searching for the girl, who went by the name Lily, after her father reported at evening that she hadn’t returned home from a visit to her aunt’s house.
Police said a bicycle believed to be hers was found late night in the woods a short distance from her aunt’s residence near the Duncan Creek walking trail.
Her body was found about 9:15 a.m. .
As investigators continue to search for a suspect in the death of a 10-year-old girl in western Wisconsin, police say they’ve increased their patrol around schools.
The body of Illiana “Lily” Peters was found at morning near a walking trail in Chippewa Falls. According to police her death is a homicide.
Lily was last seen by family members at evening. Her father called police about 9 p.m. after she failed to return home from a visit to her aunt’s house, which is just blocks away.
Chippewa County sheriff’s deputies and Chippewa Falls police used search dogs and sent up a drone as they looked for the missing girl. Police say a bike believed to be Lily’s was found near a walking trail.
Lily was a fourth-grader at Parkview Elementary School, where an outdoor memorial of flowers, stuffed animals and balloons continued to grow, KSTP-TV reported.
The school district superintendent, Jeff Holmes, sent a note to parents recommending that children who usually walk to or from school, instead be dropped off and picked up by family members or trusted friends until further notice.
Police Chief Matt Kelm has cautioned residents “to maintain a state of diligence, as there may be a danger to the public.”
Kelm 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.
Chippewa Falls, with a population of about 13,000, is approximately 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of the Twin Cities.