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UPDATE: Uncle of missing 5-year-old Utah girl charged; body found near her home


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(CNN) — Investigators in Utah have found remains they believe are those of a missing 5-year-old girl after the suspect provided a map of an area that authorities searched, a police chief said Wednesday afternoon.

Alex Whipple, the uncle of the girl, was formally charged with aggravated murder and other charges. Investigators had held out hope of finding Elizabeth Shelley alive, police said.

“We certainly wanted to bring Lizzy home,” Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen said.

The child’s family thanked law enforcement and others who helped in the search. “Lizzy was such a caring and giving little girl. We hope that we can look to her as an example of how to live,” it said in a statement.

Whipple’s attorney said his client gave information to authorities.

“I met with Mr. Whipple this morning and we went over the case. He felt it would be appropriate to disclose the location of the body,” attorney Shannon Demler said. “He told me, and I told authorities and took them there about 1 p.m. today.”

Demler indicated the location was very close to Elizabeth’s home.

Whipple, 21, who has been the main suspect in the girl’s disappearance, also was charged with a count of child kidnapping, two counts of obstruction of justice and a count of desecration of a body, said Jensen. “We don’t have a motive at this point,” the chief told reporters.

Jensen said that a deal was reached with the Cache County Attorney’s Office to take the death penalty off the table, in exchange for information that would lead to the girl’s body.

Whipple had been drinking and playing video games with Elizabeth’s mother and her live-in boyfriend the night before the girl was reported missing, according to court documents filed in Cache County.

Alex Whipple

The suspect, located by police hours after Elizabeth vanished, gave investigators conflicting versions of his whereabouts the previous night, the documents said. At one point, he left a police interview room and “began licking his hands” and trying to wipe them clean.

Whipple eventually admitted being at Elizabeth’s home and told police he went on a walk to “enjoy the scenery” after his sister and boyfriend went to their room, according to the documents. Again, investigators discovered inconsistencies in his time line.

During the interview with police, the documents said, the suspect referred to the “evil” in the world and his “struggles as a child and how his family has treated him horribly throughout his life.”

Whipple told police that alcohol makes him “black out” and that “he sometimes does ‘criminal things’ when he blacks out,” the documents said. There were dark stains consistent with blood on his pants and cuts on his hands.

Investigators searching for the girl later discovered a broken, blood-stained knife that was missing from her mother’s kitchen and a PVC pipe with a partial, bloodied palm print, according to the documents.

Not far away, police found the teal skirt with white lace that Elizabeth had been wearing buried beneath dirt and bark. The skirt was stained with blood. A small concrete block nearby also was stained with blood.

The blood on the suspect’s clothing, his watch and the knife was matched to Elizabeth during a DNA test, the documents said. The palm print on pipe was matched to the suspect.

Elizabeth was last seen at her home by her mother on Saturday at 2 a.m., according to Logan City Police Capt. Tyson Budge. Shelley’s family also last saw Whipple, who had come to the family’s home for a visit on Friday night, around that time.

Whipple, who has since been arrested, was the main suspect in the child’s disappearance. “We have strong evidence connecting Alex to Lizzy’s disappearance,” Jensen said.

Jensen said they had forensic evidence linking the two together, “DNA positive materials,” but would not elaborate.

Whipple had been arrested on a warrant for probation violation on Saturday. Elizabeth was not with him when he was found, police said.

He appeared in court Tuesday and was ordered held without bail, according to CNN affiliate KSTU.

Investigators are now looking to determine a search area for the child using security cameras and smart doorbell systems near the Shelley’s home.

Police have released surveillance footage of Whipple’s attire on Friday in hopes that businesses and residents will check their footage as well as their yards, buildings, containers and garbage cans for anything they don’t recognize.

Jensen said Whipple has been exercising his right to remain silent and has not been cooperating with the investigation.


( — Police believe they have recovered Elizabeth Shelley’s remains after an extensive five-day search for the missing 5-year-old girl, Logan police confirmed at a news conference Wednesday evening.

Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen said officers would rather have brought Elizabeth home alive, but this break brings closure and helps the family through their grief. Jensen added the remains have not been positively identified yet but police strongly believe they belong to Elizabeth.

In exchange for information on the location of Elizabeth’s body, Jensen said the death penalty was taken off the table for Alex Whipple, the girl’s uncle. He was charged with aggravated murder earlier Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the family read a statement prepared by Elizabeth’s mother, which asked for privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter.

Watch the news conference in the video player above. Click here to read more from


Logan City Police is investigating a “very credible tip” involving the location of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelly.

Officers have shut down Center Street between 400 West and 500 West in Logan and footage from KSL’s Chopper 5 shows tents have been set up. KSL reports the area is near where police found a beer can on which traces of Alex Whipple’s DNA were found, according to charging documents.

Stay with for updates.


( — SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Alex Whipple, the uncle of missing 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley, has been charged with child abuse aggravated murder, according to court documents obtained by KSL.

Logan Police Capt. Tyson Budge said Elizabeth has not yet been found.

Watch the news conference from the Logan Police Department Wednesday morning in the video above.

Click here to read more from KSL.


LOGAN, Utah ( — Police say forensic evidence gathered in the investigation of missing Logan 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley “strongly links” her uncle to her disappearance.

Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen said at a Tuesday press conference that investigators have located some “DNA-positive” materials linking 21-year-old Alex Whipple, of Providence, to Elizabeth’s disappearance. Jensen didn’t say exactly what those materials were, or how much evidence investigators have located.

Based on the evidence collected, police believe the girl is hurt, Jensen said. He did not elaborate further on what police believe about her condition and did not characterize the investigation as a recovery effort.

“We would never dash the hope that we find her alive,” Jensen said.

Elizabeth was last seen Saturday at 2 a.m. at her home in southwest Logan. Whipple was staying at her family’s house that night, according to Jensen.

She was discovered missing later that morning. The search remained ongoing as of Tuesday.

Jensen said police don’t believe anyone other than Whipple was involved in her disappearance. There is no threat to the community at this time, he added.

Police don’t have any information about any potential motive Whipple may have had, Jensen said.

Investigators believe there is a window of about eight hours on Saturday when the two went missing together, Jensen said. It’s not clear how much time the two may have spent together during that window.

The evidence linking Whipple to Elizabeth was found in the half-mile area surrounding her southwest Logan home, Jensen added.

Whipple was arrested Saturday afternoon and taken into custody on unrelated warrants. Police found him in a remote area of southwest Cache County, and they believe he had walked there, according to Jensen.

Whipple has declined to share information about the 5-year-old with authorities throughout the investigation, according to police.