US

Uncle Already Charged With Murder of 5-Year-Old Elizabeth Shelley Now Charged With Sexual Assault

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

The uncle charged with murdering 5-year-old Utah girl Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley now faces two additional charges of sexual assault upon a child, both of which are first-degree felonies. He was charged with Shelley’s murder on May 29.

The 5-year-old child Lizzy was last seen with her uncle, Alex Whipple, 21, at Lizzy’s family home in Logan on the morning of May 25 at 2 a.m., according to a report by Fox 13.

According to charging documents obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune, Whipple had come to Lizzy’s home for a visit late on May 24.

They said that Lizzy’s mother, her boyfriend, and Whipple were enjoying the night together, drinking alcohol and playing video games. The mother and boyfriend then went to bed and Whipple slept on the couch.

The girl’s mother said she last saw Lizzy around midnight. When she and the boyfriend woke up about nine hours later, by which time Lizzy and her uncle had vanished.

Police found Whipple a few hours later with a metal baseball bat, alcohol, and drug paraphernalia, and he was taken to the Logan City Police Department for questioning.

According to KUTV, investigators noticed while interviewing Whipple that there were dark-colored stains on his pants, which appeared like dried blood. DNA tests were conducted from his clothing after a search warrant was obtained.

Whipple told police that drinking alcohol made him black out. Whipple also changed his story several times before talking about the evil of the world and child abuse.

“At times, Alexander would state that alcohol makes him ‘black out’ and sometimes he does ‘criminal things’ when he blacks out. Alexander would not elaborate on what these ‘criminal things’ were,” said a probable cause statement, according to the Post-Register.

Jensen added that a knife used in the crime was discovered in the area in the northwest corner of the Bear River Charter School parking lot, the Post-Register reported. An item of Lizzy’s clothing was found nearby.

Police officials confirmed on May 28 that DNA had linked Whipple to the disappearance of his niece.

A police report stated that he had blood matching Lizzy’s DNA on his clothing when he was picked up by officials, according to the Valley Daily.

Prosecutors filed charges against Whipple the next day, including aggravated murder, child kidnapping, two counts obstruction of justice, and abuse or desecration of a body. Shortly after, Lizzy’s body was located.

On May 29, Whipple’s attorney revealed that Whipple had disclosed where they could find her remains, after negotiating that prosecutors would rule out pursuing the death penalty as a potential punishment in his case, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“He knows he’s involved in a very, very serious matter,” said Shannon Demler, the defense attorney for the suspect, reported People magazine. “After I met with him for a few hours, he decided it would be best for everyone involved if he told the authorities the location of the body.”

Searchers found Lizzy’s body at 2 p.m. local time on May 29, less than one block from her Salt Lake City home, buried under debris in a wooded area, Demler said, according to the Tribune.

Police confirmed the body was hers on May 30, and she was buried on June 4.

KUTV reported that her family had decorated her tiny coffin with the colors of the rainbow, as well as the fence around the cemetery. They also used the phrase “Live Like Lizzy” on her coffin.

Hundreds of bikers turned up to lead the funeral procession to her burial. Lizzy was remembered as a child who loved nature, the news outlet reported.

Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.