LOGAN — Alex W. Whipple made his first formal appearance in court, as prosecutors said they intend to have him locked up for the rest of his life. The 21-year-old Providence man is suspected of killing his niece, 5-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, and hiding her body behind a nearby home.
Whipple was formally arraigned in 1st District Court Monday afternoon. He has been charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense; along with felony child kidnapping, obstructing justice, and desecration of a body, plus six other misdemeanors.
Whipple wore handcuffs and shackles, flanked by deputies behind him, as he stood beside his public defender, Shannon Demler. He never spoke during the 5-minute appearance.
Demler asked the court for time to consider whether they want to have a preliminary hearing in the case. He requested a couple weeks to review the evidence.
Judge Kevin Allen granted the request and ordered Whipple to appear again in court June 24. He also ordered that the suspect remain in jail without bail, due to the nature of the charges.
Outside the courthouse, Cache County Attorney James Swink said Monday’s hearing was basically a technicality. He explained that right now, prosecutors are focused more on helping the family grieve the loss of Lizzy.
“The family is in mourning,” expressed Swink. “Those that worked this case, the hundreds of people that helped with this case, from law enforcement to the volunteers, to the victim’s advocates, all of those people are in mourning and our community is in mourning. So today is really about the family, about Elizabeth and being able to put her to rest.”
Whipple was arrested May 25 after Lizzy’s family called 911, reporting her missing. He had spent the night at their Logan home after staying up late, drinking and playing video games. Deputies report he had blood on his clothes that matched the young girl’s. Days later he agreed to tell police where her body was located, if prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in his case.
Swink said his office agreed to the settlement so Lizzy’s mom would be able to have some piece and closure, by having her daughter’s body back.
“The state will look forward to never letting this person out of prison ever. We look to lock him up for the rest of his life and never have him back on the streets. We need to protect the family and our community from that individual. That is our primary target going forward, to keep him locked up and o never be let back out.”
The hearing occurred as the family is holding memorial services for Lizzy. The funeral will be held Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Nyman Funeral Home. The funeral procession will then transport the girl’s body north along 100 East to 400 North. The motorcade will then turn right and travel east along 400 North to 1200 East, where it will again turn north and continue to the Logan City Cemetery.