LOGAN — For the first time, the mother of 5-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley spoke publicly one-week after her daughter went missing and was later found dead. Jessica Whipple cried as she shared memories and appreciation during a candlelight vigil Saturday night on the steps of the Historic Cache County Courthouse.
Whipple described the horror of going through the events of the past week, waking up on the morning of May 25 and finding her daughter gone, and then later realizing that she had allegedly been killed by her brother, 21-year-old Alex Whipple.
“This past week has been a complete nightmare,” said Whipple. “The absolute unthinkable has happened. We have lost our beautiful, sweet Lizzy. When this world-shattering news of her disappearance happened, I felt like I was drowning.”
Whipple, along with her other daughter and fiance Detrich Black, stood with extended family and community leaders in front of a crowd of more than 300 people who attended the “Remember Little Lizzy” memorial. It was organized by the Cache County Attorney’s Victim’s Advocacy Office, per the family’s request.
Whipple talked about how her daughter loved nature, and sharing flowers and rocks with others. She shared memories of how Lizzy tried to help some family friends move, eager to do everything she could to assist.
“I want to light a candle in your loving memory. I light this candle for you because you have illuminated my heart. I love you, and Daddy loves you, and Maddie loves you.”
As Whipple concluded, she and Detrich knelt down and lit two large candles on the courthouse steps as they held one another. Quietly, those in attendance lit their candles and held them over their heads.
Earlier, Terryl Warner, Director of the Victim’s Advocacy Office, said she hoped the vigil would encourage those in the crowd to find ways to be like Lizzy was.
“Tonight, I challenge each of you to live as Lizzy did,” explained Warner. “To stop and smell the flowers. To be kind to others. To find joy and happiness in the little things, like worms and butterflies. Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the light of that single candle will not be shortened.
“As we light our candles in Lizzy’s honor, I challenge you to lift another’s burden, to walk with somebody that’s hurting, give a smile to a stranger, compliment somebody, or say ‘Mom, you look beautiful.’”
Many of the police officers who spent days looking for Lizzy stood toward the back of the crowd. Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen said the loss of Lizzy has been a loss of innocence to the entire community, noting that crimes of this nature don’t occur in Logan regularly.