On Wednesday, the five-day search for missing 5-year-old Utah girl Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley came to a tragic end. A body that detectives believe belongs to the little girl was found not far from her home. It was carefully concealed by trees and brush. The devastating discovery was made after Lizzy’s uncle, 21-year-old Alex Whipple, was charged with her murder. Police believe that Whipple took the little girl from her home, killed her and buried her body. He later confessed to his lawyer what he had done and told him where to find Lizzy’s body, according to CBS News.
When authorities began to close in on Whipple, he was risking the possibility of being given the death penalty if he was convicted of the gruesome crime. In an effort to get the death penalty off the table, he struck a deal with prosecutors to provide them with valuable information in the search for Lizzy’s body. That’s when he created a map showing where he had buried her, leading law enforcement directly to her.
An advocate spoke on behalf of the little girl’s heartbroken mother, Jessica Whipple. She expressed that while she was enduring unbelievable pain at how the search had ended, she found comfort in knowing how many had came together to offer the family support and help in the search.
BREAKING: Logan City Police Chief Gary Jenson struggles as he announces murder charges against Alex Whipple in the death of his 5-year-old niece, Elizabeth "Lizzy" Shelley. WATCH: https://t.co/59E4gVdel4 pic.twitter.com/IuqKeuOBmR— KSL 5 TV (@KSL5TV) May 29, 2019
“There are not words to express the sadness and heartbreak we feel today. This did not end the way we wanted to do but in the sadness we are comforted by the effort people put in to find Lizzy. We would never have expected this outpouring of love and support. It was beautiful.”
In addition to murder charges, Whipple is facing charges of child kidnapping, obstruction of justice, and desecration of a human body. The last charge was in relation to his concealment of Lizzy’s body after her death.
While he hasn’t yet explained why he allegedly took the life of the little girl, he has made statements regarding the ways in which alcohol affects his behavior and mindset. He said that drinking makes him “black out” and sometimes do “criminal things.”
Whipple’s grandfather, Bill Whipple, said he was shocked that his grandson could commit such a despicable crime.
“I would never, ever in a million years have thought he was capable of harming such a cute little girl. I knew he was a thief, but I never labeled him as a murderer.”