Logan City authorities are still searching for 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley in Utah, following reports that the chief suspect in her disappearance is both under arrest and has been charged with murder. Despite the fact that a body has not been recovered, authorities have released statements characterizing the evidence in the case as solid.
The Cache County Attorney’s Office also recently released a grateful statement from the family, “As a family, we are overwhelmed, scared and sad at the recent tragic events that have touched our lives.” The desperate and miserable circumstances of little Elizabeth’s disappearance have been further compounded by the alleged involvement of her uncle, Alex Whipple.
The 5-year-old was last seen at home by her mother in their Logan City home around 2AM on Saturday, May 25. This is also the time Whipple was last seen, because he was spending the night at the house. What followed was a crucial and narrow window of seven hours (2AM – 9AM) in which police have stated they believe Whipple left the house with the missing child. Around 10AM that morning, Elizabeth is reported missing by her family. Multiple investigating entities were brought in to find both Elizabeth and her uncle, including the FBI, 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 K9.
This missing child investigation is another in a string of recent cases in which police have attempted to utilize private home footage from external CCTV systems and smart doorbells in order to fill in the gaps in a case’s timeline. In recent weeks, Houston law enforcement has employed similar investigative methods to find answers in the disappearance of Maleah Davis. Evidence obtained from the locals’ security systems and public CCTV surveillance cameras led police to investigating the girl’s mother’s former boyfriend. Authorities searching for Elizabeth Shelley continue to ask the community to review their own footage in the hopes that they might see something informative to their investigation.
When Whipple was located around 3PM that Saturday afternoon, the police took him into custody on the basis there was a warrant out for his arrest for failure to comply with the terms of his parole. Police recovered evidence in the vicinity of Elizabeth’s home and surrounding areas that are linked to both Whipple and the missing child. DNA obtained from some of Elizabeth’s personal items allowed police to test these items for matches to her genetic profile. Local media has reported on the grizzly list of items investigators have found related to the case. On May 28th, Chief Gary Jensen of the Logan City Police Department said in a press conference, “we have strong evidence connecting Alex to Lizzy’s disappearance.” As of Wednesday, he continues to exercise his right to remain silent.
As of May 29th, Alex Whipple is formally charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping, desecration of a body, and two counts of obstruction of justice for his continued lack of cooperation with the investigation.
Update: Late on Wednesday, May 29th, reports came in that a body believed to be 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley was found less than a block from her home after Whipple told his lawyer where he had hidden her. According to reports, Whipple provided the location of the child’s body in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table.