Wisconsin police have turned a missing persons case into a homicide investigation after the body of a 10-year-old girl was found.
During a press conference on Monday, Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm said the body of Iliana Peters (above) was discovered in a wooded area near the Duncan Creek Trail at about 9:15 a.m. on Monday.
According to the department, the fourth grader was reported missing by her father on Sunday night after she failed to return home from a visit to her aunt’s house. Her bicycle was found later that evening in the woods near a walking trail not far from her aunt’s home. After the body was discovered, it was later confirmed to be Peters by the Chippewa County Coroner.
Kelm said the investigation is just kicking off, adding that no one has been taken into custody yet. The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, and several Chippewa Falls-area law enforcement agencies are all working on the investigation.
The chief asked the public to remain vigilant, noting that while police are following multiple leads, there may very well be an ongoing danger to the public. He said:
“I want to reiterate that people remain vigilant as there could be a danger to the public. The people of our community are honest, hardworking and kind-hearted. It is almost impossible to believe that something this horrific could happen in our city, and an event like this threatens our sense of security. However, I believe we will come together as a community to overcome this fear… Chippewa Falls is a safe community. This is a very rare occurrence. However, we have to be cognizant of the fact it will require some additional vigilance here today.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Chippewa County Dispatch Center at 715-726-7701 and select Option 1.
As the search for Peters’ killer continues, the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District is increasing security measures and recommending parents or guardians pick up or drop off students who normally walk to and from their schools. The school’s administration has also asked for a stronger police presence at its schools and neighborhoods.
A letter sent by Superintendent Jeff Holmes to district families said that students in need of support can find resources within their schools, like counseling. A Chippewa Falls church held a vigil for Peters, who was a student at Parkview Elementary, on Monday night.
Our thoughts are with the victim’s loved ones and everyone in Chippewa Falls as the investigation continues.
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