The 14-year-old Wisconsin boy arrested in the murder of 10-year-old Lily Peters planned to “rape and kill” her “from the get-go,” prosecutors revealed during a bail hearing Wednesday, adding that she was allegedly strangled and hit with a stick before being sexually assaulted.
Lily’s body was found along a wooded trail in Chippewa Falls on Monday morning, just hours after her dad called police to say she hadn’t returned home from a visit to her aunt’s house. Her abandoned bike was also found on the trail less than a mile from the relative’s home.
On Tuesday, Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm announced that a juvenile “known to Peters” had been arrested. He would not confirm reports that the suspect was Lily’s cousin.
The boy has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree sexual assault, and first-degree sexual assault with a child under 13 resulting in great bodily harm.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Chippewa County District Court Judge Benjamin Lane set the boy’s cash bail at $1 million on Wednesday after prosecutors expressed concern that he might flee. His bail comes with conditions that he not have contact with any juveniles except for his siblings, and that any visits with his siblings be supervised by an adult.
District Attorney Wade Newell told the judge that, according to statements allegedly made to cops, the boy said his “intention was to rape and kill victim from the get-go when he left the house with the victim going down the trail.”
Newell alleged the boy also admitted he “punched the victim in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, essentially strangled her, hit her with a stick before strangling her to the point of death before he then sexually assaulted her.”
The boy appeared in court via video, sitting next to his attorneys with his head down, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported. Newell said he is a 14-year-old eighth grader and lifelong resident of Chippewa County who lives with his mom. Outside court, he told reporters that Lily and the boy were last seen leaving the aunt’s house together.
The boy, who has not been publicly identified, is being prosecuted in adult court for now but Newell said his defense team is allowed to make a request for the case to be transferred to juvenile court.
Lily’s disappearance and the discovery of her body has left Chippewa Falls, a lakeside town of 14,000 located 100 miles east of Minneapolis, reeling. Residents have set up memorials outside her school, Parkview Elementary, and along the popular trail where she was found, adorning them with purple ribbons in honor of Lily’s favorite color.
Some residents questioned why police didn’t issue an Amber Alert immediately after she was reported missing. In a statement before her body was found, Chippewa Falls police said K9 teams, a drone, and neighboring law enforcement agencies had been called in to help search for Lily but “at this point, the incident does not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.”
KARE11 reported that police executed a search warrant at the aunt’s Chippewa Falls home on Tuesday evening. That home was the last place Lily was seen alive Sunday night, and was the residence of the 14-year-old suspect.