Utah police believe they have found the body of missing 5 year old Elizabeth Shelley just days after her uncle Alex Whipple was charged with aggravated murder. Elizabeth Shelley’s body was found in a wooded area a quarter mile away from her home in Logan. Court documents state Whipple, 21, has been charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping, two counts of obstruction of justice and abuse or desecration of a human body.
Elizabeth’s mother reported her missing from her home on the west side of Logan on Saturday at approximately 10 a.m. Her mother, Jessica, said she and her live-in boyfriend, Detrich Black, last saw Shelley sleeping in her bed at approximately 1 a.m. when they checked on her before going to bed. Jessica stated that she had been drinking alcohol with Whipple and Detrich on Friday at approximately 10 p.m. She had invited her brother over via Facebook messenger. Elizabeth and her sister were already in bed when Whipple arrived at the residence. Jessica went to sleep around midnight and told Whipple that he could stay on the couch, court documents state.
At approximately 9:30 a.m., Jessica woke up and found the front door wide open. She recalled both Elizabeth and her brother, Whipple, were missing from the home. Court documents state Whipple left his cellphone and skateboard at the residence. The couple briefly looked for Whipple and Elizabeth outside before calling the police. The couple described her as wearing a red tank top and teal skirt to police and volunteers who began searching the area.
At approximately 3 p.m., Whipple was located in a remote area near the home. In his possession, police found a baseball bat, a pipe commonly used for narcotics, personal items and a Pabst Blue Ribbon 24-ounce beer can. He was transported to the Logan City Police Department for questioning. At the station, handcuffs were removed from Whipple and he was left alone in the room. Officers said he started licking his hands to try and wipe them clean. Police placed the handcuffs back on him to preserve evidence that may be on Whipple’s hands.
During an interview with police, Whipple initially denied going over to Jessica’s house on Friday night and changed his story several times. Court documents state Whipple said he drank beer at Jessica’s house and later left the residence to go on a walk because he could tell his sister and her boyfriend were “horny.” He told police he didn’t want to hear anything, so he went on a walk to enjoy the scenery just before sunrise. He claimed he had not seen Elizabeth while he was at her house. While he initially did not admit to any involvement in his niece’s disappearance, he told officers that when he drinks he sometimes blacks out and does “criminal things”.
When police asked why he left his cellphone and skateboard and why he left the door open, Whipple claimed he didn’t know and that he didn’t need his personal items. During the interview, investigators noticed dark colored stains on Whipple’s pants that were consistent with dried blood and several cuts on his dirty fingers. While Whipple was being questioned, investigators found a bloody knife that matched one missing from the Shelley home in a nearby parking lot, a PVC pipe with a red substance on it and a partial palm print, along with a teal skirt that was hastily buried under dirt and bark.
Court documents show that blood found on the knife, Whipple’s watch and a hooded sweatshirt all had positive matches to Elizabeth’s DNA profile. The beer can tested positive for Whipple’s DNA and the palm print on the PVC pipe was determined to be Whipple’s. When confronted with this evidence, Whipple admitted to the killing and drew a map for police to located her body in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table.