LOGAN Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Alex Whipple had two choices after he was arrested for the disappearance of his niece.
Five-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelly disappeared Saturday, May 25th and Whipple was the prime suspect.
From the outset, Logan police targeted Whipple.
Early Saturday morning, Lizzie’s mother noticed she was gone and her boyfriend Detrich Black called 911.
This is part of that call:
Dispatcher: “Any idea where she might have gone? Any family members nearby?
Black: “Her, her uncle, her mom’s brother slept over and he’s gone too. But his skateboard is here. But we woke up and the front door is wide open and we can’t find them.”
Logan police issued an alert in hopes of finding Lizzie and her uncle.
A few hours later, a Cache County sheriff’s deputy saw Whipple walking by himself on a road near Hyrum.
For nearly twenty minutes, Whipple refused to identify himself. He was arrested and brought in to the Logan police department.
“He was also very dirty and I observed blood on his clothes,” said Detective Matt Woods.
Through the state records access act (GRAMA) ABC4 obtained portions of the interview between the detective and Woods.
Here’s part of their interview:
Woods: “So you’re sister Jess, when was the last time you saw her?”
Woods: “Did you hang out with them at all yesterday?”
Whipple: “A little bit.”
Woods: “Do you know if they had their kids with them?”
Whipple: “No, uh, uh.”
Whipple: “Uh, uh.”
But earlier, Whipple’s sister told Woods that he spent the night at their home.
Woods knows he’s lying.
The detective finally told Whipple Lizzy was missing and needed to be found.
Woods: “I’m trying my best to find her.”
Whipple: “What? my f**** lizzie is missing?”
Woods: “She is.”
Whipple: “So you’re questioning me because my freaking niece is missing?”
Woods: “Yes. She’s missing.”
Whipple: “I swear to God if that little girl f*** gone somewhere (sighs) I don’t know.”
Whipple claimed it was two weeks since he last saw Lizzy. Again, Woods knew better.
“He makes several lie statements throughout the interview that I knew we could prove false,” Woods said.
As the interview continued, Woods noticed that Whipple was evasive in his answers. The uncle continued to be coy.
Whipple: “I hope nothing’s happened to my sister’s baby.”
Woods: “You know I think your sister’s baby is hurt.”
Whipple: “Don’t say that. We’re going to find her.”
Woods: “Tell me where she’s at then?”
It was the first time Woods let Whipple know he was a possible suspect.
Woods: “I know something’s bad happened to her.”
Whipple: “I don’t know. I can’t do anything right now about it. I didn’t even know f* know this was happening and now I’m sitting in f* handcuffs and I can’t go and look for my little niece. This isn’t making me feel f happy.”
Woods: “I’m sure it’s not.”
While Whipple was with Woods, a search warrant was drafted.
Police wanted his DNA and to analyze blood on his pants as well as a cut on his finger.
Whipple’s had enough from police.
Whipple: “Look I don’t know how much more questioning you want to question me but I basically told you where I was and where the f*** I went.”
The search warrant arrived and police photographed Whipple and took swabs for DNA.
He returned to the interrogation room but this time he was dressed in jail-issued clothing. Whipple admitted that he sometimes blacks when drinking too much alcohol. But he wouldn’t confess.
Before asking for a lawyer Whipple made one last statement.
Whipple: “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
Police requested a rapid DNA from the Attorney General’s office and it was conducted. Within a day, the evidence police had gathered from the scene and Whipple connected him to Lizzy’s disappearance.
“DNA evidence showed that was her blood on the pipe, it was her blood on the knife, her blood on his person,” Woods said. “His palm print on her blood that’s when we filed the charges of aggravated murder.”
Law enforcement from surrounding communities and counties continue searching for Lizzy.
“We wanted to find Lizzy and that was the only goal,” Woods said.
But with each new piece of evidence found, he said reality was setting in.
“As you can imagine once we start seeing blood on the ground and a knife with blood on it the thinking is we may be looking for a body,” he said.
Prosecutors, with the support of Lizzy’s family, reached a deal with Whipple and his lawyer. On the morning of May 29th, the police chief made an emotional announcement.
“The negotiation – was simply to take the death penalty off the table in trade for information … that would lead to Lizzy’s body,” said Chief Gary Jensen.
Whipple drew a map showing where police could find Lizzy. His attorney turned it over to police. That same afternoon, Lizzy’s body was found about a quarter-mile from her home. It was an area cadaver dogs had passed by before.
“We just missed her,” said Woods. “The temperature was very cold that week. The average is about fifty degrees and it rained during most of the investigation. Eventually, her body was found in some cinder blocks in the ground so it was kind of like a freezer.”
In September, after Whipple pleaded guilty to the crime he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. At his sentencing, he never spoke, never apologized to his sister.
His sister, Jesse Shelly never attended his sentencing. She said she didn’t want to be in the same room with him. Afterward, she along with family members and friends released numerous butterflies into the air. Lizzy loved butterflies.
In the end, police had kept their promise. It wasn’t what they were hoping for but they brought Lizzy home for a proper burial.
“I think she is in a happy place now,” said Woods. “She’s a beautiful little girl that her life had a lot of chance here and it was taken by someone that was evil. But she’s got a chance to flourish and live like a butterfly.”
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