Update: Police expand search to Hyrum area for missing Logan 5-year-old, prime suspect refusing to cooperate

Alex Whipple. Photo: Cache County
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CACHE COUNTY, Utah, May 26, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Police investigators are asking residents in Cache County to “watch for suspicious items” on their properties as the search for a 5-year-old Logan girl intensifies.

The child, Elizabeth Jessica Shelley, vanished on Saturday morning from the westside Logan home she shared with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.

Her 21-year-old uncle, Alex Whipple, the prime suspect in the case, was last seen in the home about 3 a.m. but had vanished, as had the child, sometime during the night.

On Sunday just after 5 p.m., the Logan Police Department, which has been providing frequent updates on Facebook, posted the following:

“Today additional search and rescue support has been called in from several other counties. The search has been expanded to the Hyrum area and we continue to work leads that have come forward. We now have over 200 individuals assisting in the search effort.”

An hour earlier, the Logan PD posted:

“If you live in the southwest Logan, Nibley, Hyrum or Mount Sterling areas please watch for any suspicious items on your property. If anything is found, please don’t touch it and call dispatch immediately. Also, any residences or businesses in these areas that have an outdoor camera system or ring doorbell camera please review the footage for any suspicious activity between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 25. Please call dispatch at 435-753-7555 if you have any information.”

Logan PD also updated the search efforts on Facebook Sunday morning:

“The FBI and local agencies worked through the night finishing search warrants and following up on leads. The main suspect Alex Whipple continued to be uncooperative and was booked into the Cache County Jail on an FTA (failure to appear) warrant for absconding from probation.”

In the meantime, searchers are continuing to comb the neighborhood on Logan’s near westside, going house to house and yard to yard in hopes of finding the child, who investigators say has likely been “harmed.”

Searchers Sunday also drained a number of irrigation canals that criss-cross the neighborhood.

Officials also added they are grateful to the public for their cooperation staying out of the search area.

“Thank you again for your assistance in staying out of the area,” the post said. “We know there are many who want to help and there are some who think they are helping by posting their concern about the perceived lack of details of this investigation. They do not have all the information because we cannot release everything pertinent to this investigation.”

Elizabeth’s mother told police she last saw her at 2 a.m. Saturday. It was about 9:30 a.m. when Elizabeth’s mother and the mother’s boyfriend discovered the child missing. They reported her disappearance at about 10 a.m., a Logan City Police official has said.

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At that time, Whipple also was missing, but had left his skateboard behind, the scanner transmission said. In addition, the door to the residence had been left open, the dispatcher said.

Logan Police officials initially put out a message asking the public’s help to find Whipple and the child, whose name had not been released at that point. That Facebook post went up at about noon on Saturday.

The post was updated at about 3:30 p.m. to say Whipple had been taken into custody.

According to multiple reports, law enforcement officials found Whipple walking in an area near Hyrum.

Talking live on Facebook, Logan Police Captain Tyson Budge said that Whipple is “not being that cooperative, so we are still searching for Elizabeth.”

Budge said police have found “some certain items of clothing that make us believe he was with her after (later than) he said he was.

“At this point, all we can really hope for is to locate her and find her OK,” Budge said. “The unfortunate thing is we have all the adults accounted for, so the obvious conclusion is she’s in a lot of danger.”

Budge said that search teams have now refocused on the area around the child’s residence and a few other specific sites, in part because Whipple has no access to transportation.

Agencies participating in the search are the Cache County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue, Adult Parole and Probation, the Logan Police Department, and K-9 units.

The initial post described the child as as 3 feet 6 inches tall, with shoulder-length curly brown hair and with choppy bangs. She has brown eyes, and was believed to be wearing a red top and blue jeans.

Logan Police officials also posted on Facebook they are asking residents in the area between 300 South to 100 North, and 300 West to 600 West who have video surveillance, including smart doorbells, to check their videos and cameras for the hours between 2 a.m. and noon on Saturday.

Police want any suspicious activity to be reported to the non-emergency dispatch number 435-753-7555, not 911.

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