Police Say DNA Links Uncle to Disappearance of Utah Child

By The Associated Press

LOGAN, Utah—DNA has provided further evidence that the 21-year-old uncle of a missing 5-year-old girl in Utah is behind her disappearance, police said on May 28.

Evidence also indicates the girl, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, is hurt but police did not elaborate.

“We would never dash the hope that we would find her alive,” Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen said at a news conference. “But it’s certainly a concern for us at this point; Lizzy’s safety.”

Missing Utha girl Elizabeth Shelley
Elizabeth Shelley has been missing from her Utah home since the early morning of May 25, 2019. (Logan County PD)

Jensen said police have “strong evidence” including the DNA, linking Alex Whipple to the disappearance of Shelley. He is expected to make a court appearance Tuesday in Logan.

Shelley was reported missing Saturday by her family after they woke up.

The girl and her uncle were last seen before family members went to bed about 2 a.m., Jensen said. The uncle was staying at the house that night but doesn’t live there.

The search is concentrated on a one-half mile area around the family’s home in Logan, in a picturesque mountain valley near the Idaho border about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Elizabeth Shelley (L) and Alexander Whipple.
Combination photo of Elizabeth Shelley (L) and Alexander Whipple. (Logan County PD and Cache Co. Sheriff’s Office)

Whipple was found later Saturday about 10 miles from the family home. He was combative and refused to identify himself several times when police spotted him walking in a remote area, according to court documents.

Police found him with a metal baseball bat, alcohol and drug paraphernalia. Jensen said the bat isn’t part of the evidence in the disappearance.

Whipple was booked into Cache County Jail for investigation of probation violations, failure to identify himself to police and possession of a controlled substance. He has not been charged in the disappearance.

It’s unknown if he has an attorney. His court-appointed attorneys in his past cases didn’t immediately return phone messages.

In 2016, Whipple was convicted of assaulting his roommate in an incident of domestic violence, according to court records.

That same year, Whipple was arrested after police said he stole his neighbor’s car and drove under the influence of alcohol. A 40-mile chase ended when the Utah Highway Patrol spiked the tires of the car, court documents show.

Whipple was sentenced to prison in March 2018 but his term was suspended, and he was instead ordered to serve 180 days in jail and five years of probation.

By Lindsay Whitehurst