Missing Utah Girl

This Saturday, May 25, 2019, booking photo provided by Cache County Sheriff's Office shows Alex Whipple. The search for a missing 5-year-old girl has stretched into a fourth day in Utah, with police saying Tuesday, May 28 that Whipple, her uncle, is the suspect in her disappearance. Whipple was arrested Saturday and is being held on an unrelated charge.

LOGAN — Police in Logan officially confirmed that the human remains found in an overgrown area of the city are that of 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley.

The Logan Police Department said in a tweet Thursday afternoon that they could affirmatively state that body found belongs to the girl, who was missing for several days before the body was located Wednesday around 2 p.m.

The girl’s uncle, 21-year-old Providence man Alexander William Whipple, is being held in the Cache County Jail without bail and was charged Wednesday with one count of aggravated murder.

Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen said during a press conference Wednesday that Whipple and his attorney exchanged information with investigators that took a potential death sentence off the table.

The information ultimately led to police finding the body of 5-year-old Elizabeth.

Whipple is also charged with one count of child kidnapping, a first-degree felony; two counts of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; and one count of abuse or desecration of a human body, a third-degree felony.

Elizabeth was reported missing from her Logan home around 9:30 a.m. Saturday, when her mother told police that she and her relative, Whipple, were gone from the home.

Whipple was arrested Saturday near Hyrum in rural Cache County. During an interview with police, they allegedly found what seemed to be dried blood on Whipple’s clothing.

Later, investigators found a broken knife with what seemed to be blood on the blade. The knife was the same brand of knives located in Elizabeth’s home, and one knife appeared to be missing from a knife block in the home. Near where the knife was found, in a parking lot of the Bear River Charter School, police also found a PVC pipe with what appeared to be blood on it.

Police established a DNA profile for Elizabeth from a toothbrush at her home and tested it against the blood found on the knife and the PVC pipe. Police determined the DNA from the blood found matched that of Elizabeth’s.

Jensen said that prosecutors at the Cache County Attorney’s Office were people of their word, and will not pursue the death penalty against Whipple.

“Our most important interest was bringing Lizzy home,” Jensen said.

Whipple’s initial appearance in court for the new charges against him is scheduled to take place in the afternoon of June 3 in Logan’s 1st District Court.

Jacob Scholl is the Cops and Courts Reporter for the Standard-Examiner. Email him at jscholl@standard.net and follow him on Twitter at @Jacob_Scholl.

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