Internet Sleuths May Have Helped Track Down Lily Peters' Killer
Internet sleuths may have played a role in bringing the 14-year-old boy who allegedly killed 10-year-old Lily Peters to justice.
One day before the unidentified suspect was arrested, an anonymous person posted about a possible sighting of the Wisconsin girl with "another kid."
The person stated, "another kid did it," according to The New York Post.
“What’s scary is I was playing Pokemon Go in the park that day walking along that very same trial [sic],” the verified Reddit user wrote in a post later removed by moderators.
“My stomach turns when I think that I saw that girl in a pink/purple hoodie on her bike with another kid on my way out. I have a suspicion that it could be another kid that did it.”
The post spurred other users on the True Crime subreddit to plea for the person to call the police. Instead, the user went quiet, compelling web sleuths, including some thousands of miles away from Chippewa Falls, to alert detectives.
“When I saw the post and saw that the original poster wasn’t responding, I just thought it was something that should be called in,” Angela Osment, told The Sun from her home in Virginia, more than 1,000 miles away from the crime scene.
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“This person places themselves at the scene and could possibly have been the last person to see Lily alive,” she said, adding that she and fellow web sleuths “saw everything playing out right in front of them.”
“We wanted to know who was the person you saw her with? What was he wearing? How tall? How old? But then he wasn’t answering … So I took it upon myself to call the police,” Osment said.
Within minutes, police called and “thanked me for calling the tip in and sending over the screenshots and said he just wanted to let me know that they were working on it,” she said.
“I would love to know if the tip led to the arrest,” Osment continued.
“We probably won’t ever know, but it’s amazing to think that someone like me in Virginia can help a tragic case in Wisconsin," the tipster added.
The original poster told reporter Kate Smith the post was authentic but did not say if they contacted police. “Ever since that day I can’t stop thinking ‘was that girl I saw [Lily]’ and I’ll never really know,” the user told Smith. “But it breaks my heart something like this would happen.”
After an initial court appearance Wednesday, the suspect was being held on a $1 million cash bond.
He had made statements “that his intention was to rape and kill the victim from the get-go,” District Attorney Wade Newell said. “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,” Newell told the judge at the bond hearing.
The boy is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree sexual assault, and first-degree sexual assault of a child under age 13 resulting in great bodily harm.