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.
FIND LIZZY: Video obtained by ABC4 shows Alex Whipple at 6:46 a.m. on the morning of May 25th, police confirm. This video was taken a few blocks from her home on 100 South. Have info? Call police at 435-753-7555.https://t.co/8dg6TnkZFG pic.twitter.com/DcL8VfSy3Y
— ABC4 News (@abc4utah) May 28, 2019
.@Logancitypolice have released surveillance photos of suspect Alex Whipple taken on Friday. If you have any footage from home security or may have seen police are asking for your help. If you have video footage please report it to Dispatch at 435-753-7555. pic.twitter.com/hUL8X3pbWa
— KSL Newsradio (@kslnewsradio) May 28, 2019
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.
Logan officials say their main suspect is “uncooperative”; crews continue their search for a missing 5-year-old girl who was last seen early Saturday morning. https://t.co/yhxcivGgZO
— KSL (@KSLcom) May 26, 2019
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.
BREAKING: Alex Whipple, the uncle of missing 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley, was charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping, desecration of a dead human body, and obstruction of justice. Updates from police expected in 10 min.https://t.co/QnCes0l2U6 pic.twitter.com/HWlTBJfwXw
— ABC4 News (@abc4utah) May 29, 2019
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.
Jill Parker is the spokesperson for the mother of #ElizabethShelley. This is the mother’s statement after police say the young 5-year old girls body was found in Logan today. This will be part of our team coverage for @KSL5TV at 10 tonight in Logan. pic.twitter.com/hdYkBT4Vzz
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) May 30, 2019
Missing Utah Girl, 5, Believed Hurt — and DNA Allegedly Connects Uncle to Her Disappearance https://t.co/NkwgqTtsMs
— People (@people) May 29, 2019
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.