A body was discovered in the search for missing 5-year-old Utah girl Elizabeth Shelley, according to reports on May 29.
The girl disappeared from her home over Memorial Day weekend, triggering a five-day-long search.
Searchers found her body at 2 p.m. local time on May 29, ABC4 reported, saying that the attorney of her uncle, Alex Whipple, revealed his client had disclosed where they could find her.
“He knows he’s involved in a very, very serious matter,” said Shannon Demler, the defense attorney for the suspect, reported People magazine. “After I met with him for a few hours, he decided it would be best for everyone involved if he told the authorities the location of the body.”
Demler didn’t elaborate on how Whipple, 21, would plead in the case.
Missing Utah Girl, 5, Believed Hurt — and DNA Allegedly Connects Uncle to Her Disappearance https://t.co/NkwgqTtsMs
— People (@people) May 29, 2019
“We’ve been negotiating with the county attorney’s office to resolve the matter,” the lawyer stated. “We haven’t made a decision on how it’s all going to proceed at this point.”
Charges were announced against Whipple at a news conference on the same day she was found, but it was before her body was located, People reported.
Whipple faces charges of aggravated murder, child kidnapping, obstruction of justice, and desecration of a body, police said.
“There is evidence … to believe Alexander has committed the aggravated murder of Elizabeth Shelley even though her body has not yet been located at this time,” charging documents said before the girl’s body was discovered, reported Utah’s KSL.com.
Authorities have located the body of a 5-year-old girl who had been missing since Saturday morning, according to the attorney for her uncle, who was charged in connection with the case. https://t.co/onVpUAWcsi
— KSL (@KSLcom) May 29, 2019
Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen, in a news conference, got emotional when he read the charges.
“To hear a charge of aggravated murder brings with it a notion of finality, and it’s very difficult for their family, I can imagine,” he told reporters.
Demler, meanwhile, spoke with Whipple for a few hours, saying he was “very emotional,” “confused,” and “very broken down.”
“He’s struggling as anyone would be in this situation,” he told KSL.com. “He understands it’s a very serious thing he can’t take back. He understands the gravity of it.”
Demler stated that he “negotiated” with the Cache County Attorney’s Office before the client’s body was revealed.
— KSL 5 TV (@KSL5TV) May 29, 2019
“Today is a difficult day,” the Cache County Attorney’s Office also said in a statement. “Our thoughts continue to be with Lizzy’s family. This tragic event has shaken our community,” according to the statement. “The Cache County Attorney’s Office is committed to fighting for justice. Justice for Lizzy, her family, and our community.”
Whipple was located by police hours after she disappeared, and he gave investigators conflicting accounts of what had happened, CNN reported. He eventually admitted being at the girl’s home. During the police interview, he began talking about “evil” in the world, adding that he had “struggles as a child and how his family has treated him horribly throughout his life.”
Five-year-old Utah girl’s body found. Authorities have charged Elizabeth Shelley’s uncle Alex Whipple (shown below) with aggravated murder. abuse or desecration of a human body and other crimes.
— KFDM News (@kfdmnews) May 29, 2019
Later, he said that alcohol makes him “black out” and “sometimes does ‘criminal things’ when he blacks out,” court documents stated.
Investigators searching for the girl said they discovered a blood-stained knife from the girl’s mother’s kitchen along with a PVC pipe with a bloodied palm print, which was later found to belong to the suspect.
The family released a statement about the matter. “As a family we are overwhelmed, scared and sad at the recent tragic events that have touched our lives,” the statement said, CNN reported.