LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Alex Whipple sounded shocked that his 5-year-old niece was missing.
In fact, he told police he wanted to go search for her.
Using the state’s GRAMA law, ABC4 obtained exclusive video recordings of Whipple following his May 25th arrest. The video recordings came from the Cache County Sheriff’s Office whose deputies made the initial arrest. Logan police which oversaw the investigation also released video recordings of their interrogation of Whipple.
From the outset, Logan police had a good idea who may have kidnapped Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelly. But they had to locate her uncle and then prove their theory.
The investigation was launched following a 911 call shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday, May 25. Jessica Shelly’s boyfriend Detrich Black contacted 911 on behalf of the mother.
Black: “My daughter is missing.
Dispatch: “Ok how old is she?”
Black: “She’s 5.”
Dispatch: “Ok what’s her name?”
Black: “Elizabeth Shelley.”
Authorities then learned Lizzy’s uncle, Alex Whipple, who stayed overnight at their home, was also missing.
Dispatch: “Any idea where she might have gone? Any family members nearby?”
Black: “Her … 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 detective Matt Woods was the lead investigator. He understood most missing children cases are solved quickly.
“But some of the circumstances that they were telling me, the front door being left open and the uncle missing as well was a little disturbing,” Woods said.
Police begin searching around Lizzy’s home and then her neighborhood, but there was no trace of her.
But as Woods started interviewing her parents, he got another call.
“I was notified that Alex had been located by deputies out in Hyrum,” Woods said.
It was shortly after the noon hour that Cache County Sheriff Deputy B. Chestnut came across a man dressed in black walking by himself on a road near Hyrum.
The following is a conversation he had with the man.
Deputy Chestnut: “What’s happening man? You’re out in the middle of nowhere. What’s your name dude?
Alex Whipple: “Is that important?”
Deputy: “Yeah it is. What’s your name?”
By then, the alert had spread throughout Cache County that Logan police were looking for both Whipple and Lizzy. Pictures of the pair were also sent to all members of law enforcement. In their conversations, Deputy Chestnut told Whipple he looked like the man police were looking for, ut he wanted the man to confirm his identity.
Deputy: “Are you Alex? What’s your name man?”
Whipple: “Why do you ask?”
Deputy: “We’re looking for someone that matches your description.”
Whipple still refused to identify himself despite being asked numerous times.
Whipple: “You’re rude. I don’t even know you.”
Deputy Chestnut called for backup as Whipple could be seen asking if he could reach into his pocket and grab a lighter for a cigarette that is dangling in his mouth.
Whipple: “Like can I just enjoy the scene (out here)?”
Deputy: “Right now, no.”
Deputy: “Because I have to know who you are.”
Whipple: “You don’t even …”
Deputy: “I’m being really patient with you man.”
Whipple: “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
A short while later Deputy T. Nielsen arrived and Whipple who won’t cooperate is placed under arrest.
Deputy Nielsen: “Hey stop, stop right there. Put your hands behind your head right now Alex. Right now, right now.”
Deputy Chestnut: “If you don’t put your hands behind your back right now we’re putting you on the ground.”
Whipple: “I don’t know you.”
Deputy Chestnut: “OK, well then talk to me then.”
Whipple: “You don’t know me.”
Deputy Chestnut: “OK tell me who you are?”
Deputy Nielsen: “To the ground.”
Whipple: “Why are you hurting me?”
Deputy Nielsen: “Get on your stomach, get on your stomach.”
After he’s down, Nielsen grabbed items from his pocket including a wallet.
Deputy Nielsen: “It’s Alex Whipple.”
Deputy Chestnut: “Okay Alex where’s the girl at?
Deputy: “Where’s the girl?”
Deputy: “Your niece. Your niece. Your 5-year-old niece.”
But Whipple doesn’t respond. He’s taken into custody and heads to the Logan Police Department. About a half-hour later, Whipple arrived at police headquarters. It’s the last time he’ll ever step foot on the streets of Logan again.
Meanwhile, Detective Woods is inside headquarters and is still hoping that Lizzy can be found alive. But he admitted that Whipple’s arrest changed his thinking.
“When I found out that he was located without the child, it started to dawn on me that maybe something wasn’t going to end well,” Woods said.
It’s his job to get answers from Whipple.
“My first impression when I walked in was this was our guy,” Woods said.
In part two of “To Catch a Killer, the interrogation will continue with Whipple and Detective Woods. Inside the interview room can be seen Thursday night at 10 on The Justice files on ABC4.