Editor’s note: This report contains information about a violent assault that could cause trauma for some readers. Discretion is advised.
CHIPPEWA FALLS – A 14-year-old boy followed 10-year-old Iliana Peters out of her aunt’s home Sunday night in Chippewa Falls, then strangled and sexually assaulted her on a walking trail where her body was found the next morning, prosecutors alleged Wednesday.
The boy, who has been identified only by the initials CPB, appeared by video Wednesday in a Chippewa County courtroom where a judge set his bail at $1 million.
The case drew national attention Monday after Chippewa Falls police reported the girl, who went by Lily, was missing and pleaded for tips from the public. Her body was found later Monday morning in a wooded area near the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. property. She was a fourth-grader at Parkview Elementary School, where fellow students and others decorated fences and left memorials after learning of her death.
The teenager was arrested Tuesday and has been charged in adult court with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree sexual assault and first-degree sexual assault of a child. If convicted of the homicide charge, the boy could be sentenced to life in prison. He is being held at the Northwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Eau Claire.
Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell explained his justification for requesting $1 million cash bail, despite the boy’s age. Chippewa County Judge Benjamin Lane, who presided over the hearing, ultimately agreed with the bail amount.
“The state is asking for a very high cash bond for a defendant 14 years of age, but given the statements that the defendant made to law enforcement that his intention was to rape and kill the victim from the get-go when he left the house with the victim going down the trail, (the) state believes there is a need to protect the community,” Newell said.
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Newell also described the circumstances of Peters’ death: the boy hit her in the stomach, knocked her to the ground and strangled her before hitting her with a stick, then, the district attorney said, “strangling her to the point of death before he then sexually assaulted her.”
The boy’s defense attorneys requested his bail be set at $100,000, saying the higher amount wasn’t necessary given that he’s an eighth-grader with no driver’s license and a lifelong resident of Chippewa County.
“This is a serious charge and because of serious charges, there are serious consequences, which gives a greater incentive for individuals not to want to return to court,” said Lane, who explained he also had to consider the safety of the community in setting the boy’s bail.
Newell declined to explain the specifics of the relationship between Peters and the boy charged with her death, and wouldn’t elaborate on the facts of the case. Lane sealed the criminal complaint and ordered no video or photos be taken of the boy during the hearing.
The boy’s arrest was announced late Tuesday afternoon by Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm.
“The suspect was not a stranger,” Kelm said during a news conference. “The suspect was known to the victim.”
Police began to search for Lily on Sunday evening after her father reported she had not returned from a visit to her aunt’s house. A bicycle believed to belong to her was found later that night near a walking trail not far from the Leinenkugel’s brewery parking lot.
Lily’s body was found about 9:15 a.m. Monday in a wooded area near the walking trail.
Police had already received more than 200 tips about the case by Tuesday afternoon, Kelm said.
“These tips were critical to solving this case,” he said.
Lily’s death left many people in the community shaken, even as more details became known Tuesday. Police added extra patrols around local schools to ensure students’ safety.
To show support for Lily’s family and friends, volunteers tied purple ribbons to trees and lamps in the city’s downtown, while her classmates created a memorial of flowers, stuffed animals and other items outside of her school.
Contact Chris Mueller at 920-996-7267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @AtChrisMueller.