The body of a missing 5-year-old girl from Utah was discovered less than a block from her home on Wednesday after her uncle informed authorities about the child’s location.
The remains of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley were found hidden under trees after her uncle, 21-year-old Alex Whipple, told his lawyer where he had hidden her in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table, Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen said.
An advocate for the girl released a statement from the mother, Jessica Whipple.
“There are not words to express the sadness and heartbreak we feel today,” Whipple said.
“This did not end the way we wanted to do but in the sadness we are comforted by the effort people put in to find Lizzy. We would never have expected this outpouring of love and support. It was beautiful.”
Alex Whipple was linked to the child through DNA evidence and was charged on Wednesday with murder, kidnapping and desecration of a human body.
The body was found after officers spent days combing the city set in a valley near the Idaho border about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.
Crews previously searched the area where the body was buried but didn’t find her, police said.
Alex Whipple’s attorney Shannon Demler said his client “knows he did something that’s inexcusable.”
“He wanted at least the family to know … she had passed away so that they could get some kind of closure,” Demler said.
Whipple hadn’t previously acknowledged involvement in his niece’s disappearance but did tell police alcohol makes him “black out” and sometimes do “criminal things,” prosecutors said.