Murdered schoolgirl Lily Peters suffered blunt force trauma and strangulation when she was attacked and sexually assaulted by her teenage killer, according to a preliminary autopsy.
Chippewa County Coroner Ron Patten told The Independent on Thursday that preliminary autopsy findings confirmed the 10-year-old’s death was a homicide and that she was strangled and suffered from blunt force trauma in the attack.
The coroner said that he does not expect to release the preliminary report in full and instead plans to wait to release the full autopsy when it is completed in around six weeks’ time.
He said that the full autopsy includes additional testing as officials want to be “very thorough” with the investigation into the fourth-grade student’s murder that has shocked the close-knit community of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
The preliminary findings support the version of events presented in court on Wednesday, where a 14-year-old boy was charged with Lily’s murder after allegedly confessing to punching and strangling the 10-year-old to death before sexually assaulting her.
The teenager, who knew his victim and is being referred to only by his initials C P-B, appeared in court for the first time for a hearing on Wednesday afternoon where a judge ordered him to be held on $1m cash bond.
Prosecutors said the suspect allegedly left Lily’s aunt’s house together with the 10-year-old and led her along a nearby walking trail through a wooded area.
As they went along the trail, the suspect allegedly punched Lily in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, hit her with a stick and strangled her “to the point of death”.
He then sexually assaulted the 10-year-old child, prosecutors said.
The teenager allegedly confessed to law enforcement that he had planned to kill and rape his victim.
Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell told the court that the suspect made statements to police saying 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 eighth-grade student has been charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree sexual asssualt, and first-degree sexual asssualt of a child under age 13 resulting in great bodily harm.
Because of Wisconsin law – which stipulates that first-degree homicide charges must first be brought in adult court if the suspect is aged 10 or older – Mr C B-P is currently being charged in adult court.
However the case could later be transferred to juvenile court.
DA Newell said in a press conference on Wednesday that it would be “premature” to speculate whether or not the prosecution plans to continue to try the suspect in adult court though he added that it is a “very serious case”.
If convicted as an adult, Mr C B-P faces up to life in prison on the charges.
Due to the alleged killer’s age, the court ordered that the suspect can only be referred to by his initials and that neither the defendant nor the victim’s family may be filmed during court proceedings. The criminal complaint and search warrants were also sealed by the judge.
Mr C B-P is next scheduled to appear in court at 3.30pm on 5 May for a hearing to decide on defence counsel to represent him in the case moving forward.
Chippewa Falls Police arrested the teenager on Tuesday evening after carrying out a search warrant at Lily’s aunt’s home, where the 10-year-old was last seen alive.
During the early stages of the investigation, police said that Lily had left her aunt’s house on North Grove Street on Sunday to head home to her address on East Birch Street. The two homes are a roughly six-minute walk from each other.
Lily never made it home that night and her father reported her missing to police at around 9pm.
A search was launched to track down the missing child and her bike was found along the wooded trail later that night.
Lily’s body was then discovered at around 9.15am on Monday morning in a wooded area close to the trail and a homicide investigation was launched.
At a press conference announcing the suspect’s arrest on Tuesday evening, Police Chief Matthew Kelm said that a search warrant was executed at a home on North Grove Street earlier that evening.
Evidence was collected from the property and interviews were carried out, before the suspect was taken into custody, he said.
Based on the alleged killer’s own statements to police, prosecutors said they now know that Lily and the suspect left the home together and headed along the trail.
Records show that the address on North Grove Street where the search was executed is the home of Lily’s aunt.
Officials are refusing to confirm if the suspect also lives at the address or if he is related to Lily.
However, police said that Lily knew her killer and that there is no longer any danger to the community following his arrest.