In Effingham County, a jury has indicted a man on charges that he stabbed his 7-year-old niece to death.
22-year-old Justin DeRyke is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. The indictment replaces a criminal complaint bearing those charges against DeRyke earlier this month.
Authorities allege DeRyke killed Willow Long late Sept. 7 or early Sept. 8 near the family's home in Watson, a village about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis.
Investigators say DeRyke insisted he killed his niece to "put her out of her misery" after he says she fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck with a stick.
DeRyke is to appear in court again on Thursday. It's unclear if he has an attorney.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)