Police have identified the body found Wednesday buried beneath leaves and debris in a wooded area in Logan to be that of missing 5-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, police announced Thursday.
Alex Whipple, 21, told investigators where to find his niece’s body. She was located about a quarter mile from her home Wednesday, police said, though they didn’t immediately confirm the identity of the remains.
Whipple has been charged with with aggravated murder, child kidnapping, obstructing justice and abuse or desecration of a human body in the death of his niece. She was last seen about 2 a.m. Saturday at her home, where Alex Whipple was staying.
When both he and Lizzy were not there later that morning, he became a suspect in her disappearance. He was charged before police found the girl’s body due to the amount of forensic evidence found.
Also Thursday, a 911 call released by Logan Police revealed the panic her parents felt moments after realizing she was missing.
“My daughter is missing,” said Detrich Black, the caller, who said he and Lizzy’s mother, Jessica Whipple, had woken up moments before and discovered Lizzy was missing. Black identified himself as Lizzy’s father.
“We woke up and the front door is wide open and we can’t find Lizzy,” Black said.
Black told the dispatcher that when he and his wife woke up and noticed she was gone, they searched the house and yard. He also said Alex Whipple was with them the previous night. When they discovered he and the girl were missing, they tried to reach Alex on his phone, but they found he had not taken it with him.
“Did you say his phone is here?” Black asked Jessica Whipple in the background.
“That’s what my wife is telling me, his phone, his hat, his skateboard,” Black answered as he listed the items Alex Whipple left behind in their home.
On Wednesday, the girl’s grandfather said Jessica Whipple didn’t see her younger brother Alex often but decided to help him recently when he asked her to pick him up.
Bill Whipple said Alex Whipple had a difficult childhood but had never showed violent tendencies.
“I would never, ever in a million years have thought he was capable of harming such a cute little girl,” Bill Whipple said. “I knew he was a thief, but I never labeled him as a murderer.”
Alex Whipple’s mother left the family when he was young, leaving his father to raise three children alone while he worked as a truck driver. The young man spent time in foster homes and didn’t graduate from high school. He has a criminal record that includes a 2016 assault, possession of a stolen vehicle and drug-related charges.
The search for Lizzy and the discovery of her body hit the Logan community hard, leaving her family and loved ones to mourn.
“There are not words to express the sadness and the heartbreak we feel today," the family said Wednesday through a spokesperson. "This did not end the way we wanted it to, but in this sadness we are comforted that so many people put forth so much effort to help us find Lizzy. You made the difference and we are so very grateful.”
According to FOX 13, several officers who took part in locating Lizzy’s remains on Wednesday were also affected by it and 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 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."
The Associated Press and FOX 13 contributed to this report.