Police find remains believed to be of Elizabeth Shelley as they continue to investigate a motive

Police searching behind a home near 465 West 100 South, where a body was found, believed to be that of Elizabeth Shelley, May 29, 2019. (Will Feelright)
Family photo of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley (Courtesy: Teena Shelley).

LOGAN — Police located the body Wednesday afternoon, believed to be of 5-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, who has been missing since early Saturday morning. The girl’s remains were found behind a house near 465 West 100 South, a half-block from Shelley’s home. The body was discovered, five days after she was believed to have been killed by her uncle, 21-year-old Alexander “Alex” Whipple.

During a press conference, Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen explained that late Wednesday morning, Whipple provided officers a map, as part of a negotiation between prosecutors and Whipple’s public defender, Shannon Demler. The map led searchers to an area where they found the body, believed to be Shelley’s.

“This is obviously the break that we had been waiting for,” Jensen said. “This is the moment that we had hoped would come. Certainly it’s not the way we wanted it to happen, we certainly would have wanted to bring Lizzy home. Never the less, this is closure and it helps us be able to now deal with the investigation and help the family through their grief.”

The negotiation that attorney’s worked out, removed the death penalty from the case that prosecutor’s had filed earlier in the day, which included aggravated murder and other charges. The deal was only for information about the body’s location, and not a plea agreement, for Whipple to plead guilty.

Jensen described that Whipple’s map led officers to an area that had been searched multiple times. The body was found buried underneath sticks, leaves and other debris, between a cinder-block shed and a chain-link fence.

Booking photo for Alex Whipple (Courtesy: Cache County Jail).

“It’s a wooded area. It’s a very, very overgrown area. It’s hard to believe that we have been through that area and were unable to find her.

Police K-9s had detected something in the same area during previous searches and officers had found several pieces of evidence nearby. It turns out that searchers might have misunderstood what the dogs were smelling.

Officers blocked Center Street and 100 South, between 400 and 500 West to all traffic for several hours, while crews recovered the body. The remains were turned over to the State Medical Examiner’s Office, to conduct a positive ID and determine the exact cause of death.

Jensen said even though police have found what they believe to be is Shelley’s body, their investigation isn’t over. Officers will continue to search and try to determine Whipple’s motive.

“This isn’t over with. The investigation is ongoing. We still have a lot of things to sift through, a lot of investigation to do with the coroner’s office, the state crime lab, even potentially interviews with Alex.”

According to charging documents, Shelley’s mother, Jessica Whipple, called police Saturday at 9:30 a.m., after she woke up and found the front door of her home wide open, and her daughter and Whipple missing. She claimed that she had invited the suspect over Friday night, to play video games and drink alcohol with her and her live-in boyfriend, Detrich Black. The couple explained that Whipple was invited to sleep on the couch that night, after they went to bed around mid-night. They claimed Shelley was last seen asleep in her bedroom, wearing a teal skirt with white lace and a red tank-top with a “Fourth of July” theme.

Law enforcement search teams going door-to-door near 300 West 200 North in Logan (Photo: Will Feelright).

Multiple law enforcement agencies along with the Federal Bureau of Investigations started searching for both individuals. They later found Whipple Saturday afternoon, walking alone near Mt. Sterling, more than 10-miles away from Shelley’s home. They also discovered a broken knife that had the victim’s DNA on it, a PVC pipe with the suspect’s palm print on it and the skirt, she was last seen wearing.

Police report Whipple’s wristwatch and sweatshirt contained blood that matched Shelley’s DNA. Later while at police headquarters, waiting to be interviewed, he was seen licking his hands and trying to wipe them clean. He told investigators that “alcohol makes him black out and sometimes he does criminal things.”

During Wednesday’s press conference, Jill Parker read a statement from Jessica Whipple. She said there aren’t words to express the sadness and heartbreak they feel.

“In this sadness we are comforted that so many people put forth so much effort to help us find Lizzy,” read Parker. “You made the difference and we are so very thankful. We would never have expected this outpouring of help and support, we could not have gone through this by ourselves. We were able to feel the love of so many people most who we never met.”

Whipple remains in jail after a judge Tuesday ordered that he be held without bail. He is scheduled to appear again in court June 3. In addition to aggravated murder, he is charged with child kidnapping, a second-degree felony; two counts of obstructing justice and abuse or desecration of a body, a third-degree felony. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.

The Cache County Attorney Victim’s Advocates has set up a donation account for the Shelley family. It is at Zions Bank under the account name: Elizabeth Shelley Donation.


will@cvradio.com

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16 Comments

  • Free Bird May 29, 2019 at 7:55 pm Reply

    If this doesn’t make you sick, I have no idea what will! God bless this sweet little girl! My thoughts are with her!

  • Lynette May 29, 2019 at 8:12 pm Reply

    Its very unfortunate that she wasn’t found yesterday when you all were back there behind the Weber home for hours… A plea deal wouldnt have had to happen… Just saying… A very big lesson learned… Follow the evidence.. search the whole parameter…

    • Terry May 30, 2019 at 11:26 am Reply

      Easier said than done. How do you think the people who were close to her body, but didn’t find her are feeling? Good thing to know that you are an expert on searching “the whole parameter”.

      • Kylie Black November 18, 2019 at 1:01 pm Reply

        thank you for being sensitive to those located close, I live in the home that was used as the access point to locate her and it was and still is very difficult for us. Everyone who was helping at that time did their very best.

    • Felicia Vasquez May 31, 2019 at 1:41 pm Reply

      Agreed

  • Joe Jensin May 30, 2019 at 8:56 am Reply

    The problem is that here in Logan we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for police officers and police dogs.

    The volunteers and police probably tripped over poor Lizzy’s feet while they were searching for her. The police dogs who walked over Lizzy’s body multiple times and didn’t pick up her scent are worthless. The sad thing is that if it wasn’t for the uncle giving up where her body was, we probably never would have found her.

    • Terry May 30, 2019 at 11:29 am Reply

      Wow, Joe! Scrape the bottom of the barrel, really? You have no idea what you are talking about. It’s funny how so many people are arm-chair quarterbacks. Your comments are rude and unnecessary. Next time something like this happens, let’s send you out to find the victim. Lord knows you’ll do a much better job.

    • Free Bird May 30, 2019 at 5:44 pm Reply

      Dude, you are an idiot period!

      • Terry May 31, 2019 at 8:33 am Reply

        I hope you meant, Joe.

        • Free Bird May 31, 2019 at 6:02 pm Reply

          Yeah I did, follow the line up.

    • Kylie Black November 18, 2019 at 1:04 pm Reply

      Dear Joe, Each officer and dog did their very best to locate her. If they hadn’t of found her, me or one of my roommates would have later. We live in the home that was used to access Lizzy and I think everyone who was involved in any way would appreciate any negative comments kept to yourself.

  • ornery old lady May 30, 2019 at 3:53 pm Reply

    So why do we take the death penalty off the table when that little girl didn’t have an option like that. Why do we care more about the rights of scumbags than innocent, defenseless children. I say, let a bunch of parents have their way with him for 4 days, like he waited to tell where she was, See what shape he’s in then.

  • CJay May 30, 2019 at 11:12 pm Reply

    How anyone could call those who search that field for hours and hours and worked so hard and tirelessly (yes it is just out of our back yard, so we know) worthless and bottom of the barrel? Those who criticise need to grow up and stop believing they know better. And by the way, although Logan officers definitely worked VERY hard in all this, not all the searchers were from Cache Valley. We saw at least 3 sets of dogs search with them, I believe.

  • LeAnda Cannaday June 1, 2019 at 2:40 pm Reply

    I too wondered how they didn’t find the body of that poor little girl. It was only a block away. If they had found it then the death penalty would not have been taken off the table, but more importantly the family would have had closure sooner. Then I read all the comments that people wrote and I was reminded of how easy it is to judge with 20/20 vision in hindsight. I am sure all the people searching in that area are now asking themselves the same thing “How did we miss her body?.” This is a horrific event! If we feel the need to judge everyone involved (family, searchers, police, etc…) then let’s do it with the compassion that we would want others to show us. They were out searching, were we? They were doing their best, were we doing anything to help? How can we support this family and help them move forward while dealing with such an unspeakable loss? How can we support those who were out searching, so they do not feel guilty and say next time I will not go out and search? It is too easy to criticize, but isnt it just as easy to say thank you?
    I too am disappointed that the death penalty is not on the table for such an unspeakable act. But, then I think about what did the family need at the time? They needed to find their little girl. So, if removing the possibility of killing her brother allows them to be able to find her and have that closure, then yes it was the right decision.
    Let’s all show more love, support and compassion and maybe we can help the next person who finds themselves in an unfathomable situation.

  • r.davis June 1, 2019 at 5:45 pm Reply

    No jailhouse justice for this POS. Let him rot in max prison. Watch the clip on El Chapo’s jail cell which will be similar to Whipple’s. Small all steel and cement room. Small window which you can not see the sky or ground. Never to see or walk on grass again. Every served meal is all soft and mushy so you can’t throw it or make a weapon out of it If after so many years you behave you get a small b and w tv with all religious and super boring channels. No news, weather or sports. You are heavily medicated the last 20 to 30 years of your life because you slowly lose all your marbles. No talking to any guards or other prisoners. No thanks I’ll go out feet first.

  • Kylie Black November 18, 2019 at 1:05 pm Reply

    Dear Joe, Each officer and dog did their very best to locate her. If they hadn’t of found her, me or one of my roommates would have later. We live in the home that was used to access Lizzy and I think everyone who was involved in any way would appreciate any negative comments kept to yourself.

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