Reports: Police recover little girl’s body after uncle reveals location

Searchers look for signs of 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley on May, 27, 2019, in Nibley, Utah. Shelley was later found dead. | File photo by Eli Lucero/Herald Journal via Associated Press, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A man charged with murder in the death of his 5-year-old niece has told police where he hid her body, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The disclosure came hours after 21-year-old Alex Whipple was charged with murder after police said they found the blood of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley on his sweatshirt and his handprint in what appears to be blood on a piece of plastic pipe.

“He knows he did something that’s inexcusable,” defense attorney Shannon Demler said. “He wanted at least the family to know … she had passed away so that they could get some kind of closure.”

The body is less than a block from the girl’s home, Demler said.

Local television stations are reporting the girl’s body has been recovered but Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen has yet to confirm that.

This undated photo provided by the Logan City Police Department shows Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, who was reported missing May 25, 2019. | Logan City Police Department via Associated Press, St. George News

In previous interviews with police, Whipple didn’t acknowledge involvement in the disappearance but alluded frequently to “how evil the world we live in is” and talked about his struggles as a child, prosecutors said in court documents.

He also told police alcohol makes him “black out” and sometimes do “criminal things,” the documents state.

Whipple was charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body, a charge that relates to steps taken to hide the body, Jensen said.

He said the child’s blood was found on Whipple’s watch and sweatshirt. His handprint was discovered on the piece of PVC pipe near a broken knife bearing her blood that was taken from her family’s kitchen, authorities said.

A teal skirt with lace that she was last seen wearing was nearby, the charges state.

The search for Lizzy began Saturday morning, when her frantic mother reported the girl’s bed was empty and the front door was wide open. Also missing was Whipple, who had slept on the couch after a night of drinking with his sister and her boyfriend.

This May 25, 2019, booking photo provided by Cache County Sheriff’s Office shows Alex Whipple, a suspect in the disappearance of his 5-year-old niece. | Photo courtesy of Cache County Sheriff’s Office via Associated Press, St. George News

Whipple was found several hours later about 10 miles from the family home. His hands were “filthy,” he had cuts on his fingers and dark, blood-colored stains on his pants, authorities said.

He also had a pipe used for narcotics as well as a baseball bat and a beer, according to charging documents. When handcuffs were later removed, he began licking his hands and trying to wipe them clean, police said. Authorities don’t consider the bat to be part of the disappearance.

Whipple agreed to talk to police and initially denied he had been at his sister’s house the night Lizzy went missing. He later said he had visited then left for a walk early in the morning.

Whipple has a criminal record that includes a 2016 assault on a roommate, possession of a stolen vehicle and drug-related charges.

He had been on probation and making progress but began missing appointments at the beginning of the year and dropped out of touch in April, a probation agent said in court documents.

Whipple is scheduled to make a court appearance Monday.

Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST Associated Press.

Associated Press writer Brady McCombs contributed to this story.

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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