Police: Body of 10-year-old Chippewa Falls girl found, homicide investigation underway

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Law enforcement officials in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, said Monday they have found the body of a 10-year-old girl who was reported missing.

According to the Chippewa Falls Police Department, Illiana “Lily” Peters was last seen by family members Sunday evening. Her father contacted police at 9 p.m. after he said she had not returned from a visit to her aunt’s house.

The police department contacted additional family and friends, but the girl was not with them.

Police reported a bicycle believed to belong to the girl was found in the woods a short distance from her aunt’s house, near a walking trail between the end of North Grove Street and the Leinenkugel brewery’s parking lot.

Monday evening, over a hundred people showed up at Valley Vineyard Church, devastated by Lily’s death.

“It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to be angry and sad and it’s okay to struggle,” said Pastor Michael Houle of Vineyard Valley Church.

Neighbors were shocked at the development Monday.

“It’s a scary situation,” said Jeremy Machnik, a neighbor, adding, “when you know we’re just inside the house and it’s Sunday afternoon, we’re cleaning and making dinner and that’s going on a block away from our house, and it’s scary.”

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During the update Monday afternoon, Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm reported that the girl’s body was found at about 9:15 a.m. near the walking trail.

Kelm reported a homicide investigation is underway. Kelm stated no one is currently in custody in connection with the incident.

Kelm asked the public to remain vigilant “as there may be a danger to the public.”

Police said a tipline has been established at 1-800-263-5906. Anyone who sees anything suspicious or knows something that could help investigators is asked to call that tipline.

“She’s cute, a very cute girl, very kind,” Jeremy Machnik, a neighbor, said about Lily.

Machnik’s children often played with Lily. Word of her murder in their quiet neighborhood left him with chills.

“I saw her just yesterday, with her cousins just riding up and down (their bikes) — I see other kids doing it … other people,” he said. “It’s insane … it’s incredible … it’s sad.”

Earlier, K9 teams from the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake Hallie Police Department were called in to search the surrounding area. Law enforcement officials, meanwhile, conducted door-to-door canvassing.

The Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation determined the incident did not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.

If anyone has any information, they’re asked to call the Chippewa County Dispatch Center at 715-726-7701 and select Option 1.

Reporter Eric Chaloux is following this news Monday. Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates.

A photo of the investigation scene. (KSTP/ Eric Chaloux)
A photo of the investigation scene. (KSTP/ Eric Chaloux)
A photo of the investigation scene (KSTP/ Jim O’Connell)
A photo of the investigation scene (KSTP/ Jim O’Connell)