The search for Elizabeth Shelley and the discovery of her body hit the Logan community hard, leaving her family and loved ones to mourn. But now that the suspect has been charged, what about the first responders and police who now must deal with the trauma of finding the body of the five-year-old girl?
According to FOX 13, several officers who took part in locating Lizzy’s remains on Wednesday needed to walk away and take a moment to themselves. Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen told FOX 13 now that the investigation phase is over, he is now focusing on the emotional and mental well-being of his officers and first responders.
“It takes a toll, the human nature of police officers,” Jensen said. “And so now my job is to shift gears and to think about the mental well-being of a staff of people — not only mine but those that came and assisted — and so it will be something that I now have to push forward and make sure that our folks are OK."
Officers found the body of five-year-old Lizzy after he uncle, Alex Whipple, told them where to look. Lizzy had been missing for five days when Whipple was arrested and charged with her kidnapping and murder. Even though officers had not found her body yet, they believed they had enough forensic evidence to charge Whipple. Jensen explained Whipple offered the information regarding where Lizzy’s body was in exchange for prosecutors taking the death penalty “off the table.” Investigators have not established a motive for the crime.
Jensen said he is going to meet with his staff, emergency dispatch and the first responders and let them know what resources are available to them to help them process any trauma they may be feeling. He explained the emotional scars from a case such as this one are harder to detect and may take longer to surface. He emphasized it is now a lot more socially acceptable for officers and emergency responders to seek out help for this type of trauma than in decades past.
The Cache County Children’s Justice Center states a donation account has been opened for the family at Zions Bank in the name “Elizabeth Shelley Donation”. There is also a GoFundMe page.
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.