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Police: ‘Strong’ forensic evidence connects missing 5-year-old’s uncle to girl’s disappearance


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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.