LOGAN, Utah — The search for a missing 5-year-old girl has stretched into a fourth day in Utah, with the child’s family saying they are overwhelmed, scared and saddened by her disappearance.
Jill Parker, a victim advocate with the Cache County Attorney’s Office, read the family’s statement at a brief news conference Monday in Logan.
Police say 21-year-old Alex Whipple is a suspect in the disappearance of his niece Elizabeth Shelley. Authorities say their investigation is ongoing.
Police say Whipple was found in a rural area and arrested Saturday, the same day the girl — who’s known as Lizzy among family — was reported missing from her home.
Police say Whipple has been interviewed by authorities and jailed on a probation violation. He was also found in possession of drug paraphernalia. Authorities have accused him of being uncooperative.
Lizzy has brown hair and brown eyes.
Logan City Police have asked that any residents in the area between 300 South to 100 North and 300 West to 600 West who have video surveillance to review it and report any suspicious activity to 435-753-7555. On that day Whipple was wearing a cap and black jacket, and appeared to have facial hair.
Residents living in Logan, Nibley, Hyrum or Mount Sterling have also been asked by police to keep an eye out for any suspicious items on their property, especially in yards, buildings, containers or garbage cans; anything found should be reported to officials.
Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen told reporters Tuesday that investigators have “strong evidence” including DNA linking Whipple to the disappearance of “Lizzy.”
Jensen says the girl is believed to be hurt. He did not elaborate.
According to court records, Whipple is charged with several misdemeanors relating to his arrest in a rural area of Cache County on Saturday. He is being charged with failing to stop at the command of law enforcement, a class A misdemeanor; failure to disclose identity, a class B misdemeanor; and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon, a class A misdemeanor. Whipple is also being charged with misdemeanors relating to drug and paraphernalia possession.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Whipple has not been charged in connection to Elizabeth Shelley’s disappearance.
During a brief court hearing Tuesday, Whipple was denied bail by a Logan judge. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 3, according to online court documents.
Whipple has a criminal record that includes an assault involving domestic violence, possession of a stolen vehicle and drug-related charges.
Multiple agencies are aiding in the search, including the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and Violent Crimes Task Force, Homeland Security, Cache County Sheriff’s Office, North Park Police Department, Smithfield Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, Adult Probation and Parole and Great Basin K-9, according to Logan Police.
Standard-Examiner reporter Jacob Scholl contributed to this report.