The 14-year-old boy charged with sexually assaulting and killing 10-year-old Wisconsin girl Lily Peters may have been busted after a flurry of tips about an online post from a possible key witness, according to reports.
On Tuesday — a day before the unidentified teen was arrested — an anonymous poster wrote about a possible sighting of little Lily with “another kid” and fears that “another kid did it.”
“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 sparked a flurry of pleas from other users on the True Crime subreddit to immediately call in the tip to cops.
The Reddit user instead went quiet — compelling a flurry of web sleuths who saw the alarming thread to make sure that detectives were aware of it, including some thousands of miles away from the Chippewa Falls crime scene.
“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,” one of them, Angela Osment, told The Sun from her home in Virginia, more than 1,000 miles away from the crime scene in Chippewa Falls.
“This person places themselves at the scene and could possibly have been the last person to see Lily alive,” she said, adding her and her 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, a detective 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.
Chippewa Falls police did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether the tip was crucial in Wednesday’s arrest.
“I would love to know if the tip led to the arrest,” Osment said.
“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 original Reddit user confirmed the post was authentic in a chat with independent reporter Kate Smith, without revealing if they ever contacted investigators.
“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.”
The 14-year-old suspect, who was not identified, was being held on a $1 million cash bond after an initial court appearance Wednesday.
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.
He 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.
With Post wires