THE uncle of a missing five-year-old girl has been charged with her murder after leading detectives to her dirt-covered body, police in Utah revealed last night.
Alex Whipple, 21, agreed to help cops in a deal that will see him avoid the death penalty over the slaying of little Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley.
Alex Whipple, 21, was found by police wielding a baseball bat and carrying booze and drugs[/caption]
Little Lizzy Shelley, 5, was last seen alive as she slept in the early hours of Saturday morning[/caption]
The girl had been missing for five days after vanishing from home in the town of Logan on Saturday morning.
Her body was found on Wednesday buried in a heavily wooded area just yards away, Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen said.
Jensen also confirmed that Whipple helped with the investigation in return for the death penalty being taken off the table.
‘SNATCHED AS SHE SLEPT’
Little Lizzy was last seen alive as her family went to bet at about 2am on Saturday, CBS Austin reports.
Whipple was staying at the house that night but doesn’t live there.
He was found on Saturday afternoon hours after Lizzie was reported missing in a remote area 10 miles from the family home.
Whipple was combative and refused to identify himself when police spotted him, according to court documents.
Officers found him wielding a metal baseball bat and carrying booze and drugs.
Lizzy’s distraught mum Jessica – Whipple’s sister – thanked the local community following the tragic discovery.
In an emotional statement read by family spokesman Jill Parker, Jessica said: “There are no words to express the sadness and the heartbreak we feel today.
“This did not end the way we wanted it to.”
The girl’s blood had already been found on Wipple’s hoodie, police said earlier on Wednesday.
Although formal identification of the body is yet to take place, police strongly believe that it is missing Lizzie.
The teal blue skirt she was last seen wearing was also found after being “hastily buried”, cops said.
A knife that vanished from the family’s home was also recovered and found to have the girl’s blood on it, prosecutors said.
And a plastic pipe found in the parking lot of a nearby school allegedly has Whipple’s red-stained hand print on it, charges state.
Whipple has been charged with aggravated murder – which is a capital offence in the state of Utah.
He was also charged with child kidnapping, desecration of a human body and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Earlier, police said that DNA evidence pointed to Whipple being behind Lizzie’s disappearance.
He was denied bail on Tuesday and remains in custody.
Cops suspect him of kidnapping the child as her family slept in the early hours of Saturday.
A huge search for the girl was launched, which concentrated on a half-mile area around the family’s home near the Idaho border – about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.
The disappearance shocked the small, close-knit community of 50,000 people placed in the picturesque Rocky mountains.
Nancy Buttars, 63, said search crews trekked along a river behind her house on Monday.
She said she had searched her property herself after hearing alerts about the missing girl.
Mrs Buttars said: “I just hope they find her and put an end to it.”
Betty Balls, 55, a hotel housekeeper in nearby Wellsville, said earlier: “Please, wherever she is, bring her home to her family.
She added: “This is a safe environment.
“The kids play outside, and you know they’re out there.
“Nothing like this should happen at all.”
Whipple was arrested on probation violations, failure to identify himself to police and possession of a controlled substance.
In 2016, Whipple was convicted of assaulting his roommate in an incident of domestic violence, according to court records.
The same year, Whipple was arrested after police said he stole his neighbour’s car and drove under the influence of alcohol.
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A 40-mile chase ended when the Utah Highway Patrol spiked the tires of the car, court documents show.
Whipple was sentenced to prison in March 2018 but his term was suspended.
He was instead ordered to serve 180 days in jail and five years of probation.
Police in Logan, Utah, were led to the missing girl’s partially buried body on Wednesday[/caption]
Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen said Whipple led cops to the girl’s body as part of a deal to avoid the death penalty[/caption]
A huge search had been launched after Lizzy Shelley was reported missing on Saturday[/caption]
Cops and volunteers had scoured the area in an attempt to find the missing girl[/caption]
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