Chippewa Falls community coming together to process 10-year-old’s death
CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -In a tragic ending, a missing persons case is now a homicide investigation after police found the body of Iliana (Lily) Peters Monday morning.
Police said the 10-year-old was found in a wooded area near a walking trail in Chippewa Falls.
Lily Peters’ father reported his daughter missing Sunday night after she didn’t make it home from her aunt’s house.
Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm said after they found her body Monday morning, evidence at the scene pointed to a homicide.
Now the Chippewa Falls community is finding ways to come together to process this tragedy.
Around 9 p.m. the Chippewa Falls Police Department received a call that Iliana (Lily) Peters hadn’t returned home after visiting her aunt on North Grove Street.
Officers found her bicycle near the woods of a walking trail between that street and the Leinienkugel’s brewery’s parking lot.
Monday morning first responders found her body.
“That was at the point that we made the decision to transition that, so I can’t speak to what the evidence is, or specifics to that decision making, but why we went to that decision, but that was at that time,” said Matthew Kelm, the Chippewa Falls Police Chief.
With no suspect in custody, the Chippewa Falls Police Chief is urging the community to use extra caution.
“Chippewa Falls is a safe community,” Kelm said. “This is a very rare occurrence. However, we have to be cognizant to the fact that it will require some additional vigilance here today.”
Kelm said Monday afternoon that Leinenkugel’s is helping the investigation.
A statement on behalf of the brewery said: “This is an unspeakable, heartbreaking tragedy, and we want to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. We are working with the authorities, and providing the help and support we can.”
As for community members, they’re trying to make sense of Lily Peters’ death.
“This poor little 10 year old girl,” said Amanda Behm who lives in Chippewa Falls. “Who does that? It is just so hard, Everybody I know and don’t know are messaging me and saying watch your kids.”
Behm said as they heard the news, she and her children decided to pay tribute to the 10-year-old.
“My kids were with me and let’s go,” Behm said. “They said purple, so we went out, and we colored her name, and let people know, hey, kids live here, and we will be on alert.”
At Parkview Elementary School where Lily was a fourth grader, a sign, a teddy bear and some flowers are remembering her.
In another part of the city, community members had the chance to come and pray at Valley Vineyard Church.
“What we wanted was a spot for the community to gather together,” said Michael Houle, a senior pastor. “There’s something about community being together that helps than being alone. The worst thing tonight to do is be alone. Grief alone is dangerous. Grief together is a place to start or at least a place to have and be grounded.”
The investigation into Lily Peters’ death is ongoing.
Again, no suspect is in custody at this time.
If you have any information or see anything suspicious, the police department has set up a tip line.
That number is 1-800-263-5906.
Copyright 2022 WEAU. All rights reserved.