Accused killer of 5-year-old niece appears in Logan courtroom

Alex Whipple in court on June 3, 2019. Photo: Court Pool

LOGAN, Utah, June 3, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Alex Whipple, the accused killer of 5-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, appeared in Logan’s 1st District Court on Monday, his first such appearance since being charged last week with aggravated murder and kidnapping in the case.

Whipple, 21 and Lizzy’s uncle, at first appeared gaunt and somewhat frail as he made his way into the courtroom. Moments later his demeanor changed, as he glared menacingly about the courtroom and then at the press pool photographer.

The court appearance was short, but long enough for the judge and Whipple’s attorney, Shannon Demler, to schedule a preliminary hearing for June 24. At that time, the defense will decide whether to move forward with the case.

Whipple stands charged with the aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; child kidnapping, a first-degree felony; two counts of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; and desecration of a dead human body, a third-degree felony.

Whipple was arrested on Saturday, May 25, hours after he and his niece went missing overnight from his sister’s westside Logan residence.

Whipple initially was held on an existing warrant related to resisting arrest and possessing drugs and a metal baseball bat, a potentially lethal weapon, which violated his probation for previous criminal convictions.

After a five-day search for Lizzy’s body, the Logan City Police Department filed the more serious charges listed above. Aggravated murder is a capital crime, and attorney Demler convinced Whipple to reveal the location of the body if prosecutors agreed not to pursue the death penalty in the case.

With that deal in place, Whipple drew a map indicating the location of the child’s body, and Demler turned the map over to police.

Officials followed the map and found Lizzy’s body, hidden under dirt and debris in an overgrown field within five doors of the house from which Lizzy had been taken.

After the proceedings on Monday, Cache County Prosecutor James Swink commented on why officials agreed to the deal.

“Not to have the body of your child, you just can’t cope with that. You can’t get your head around that,” he said. “And because we were able to work out a resolution in that one small aspect, the mother has the body of her child back and is able to lay her to rest in a proper way.”

Swink said his goal is to put Whipple in prison for the rest of his days.

“We look to lock him up for the rest of his life and never have him back on the streets,” Swink said. “We need to protect the family and our community from that individual.”

Whipple is being held in the Cache County Jail without bail.

Lizzy’s memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Nyman Funeral Home, 753 S. 100 East in Logan. Prior to the services, a viewing will be held from 11-1 p.m. Lizzy’s obituary asked for people who come to bring picked flowers, explaining that picking flowers was one of Lizzy’s favorite things to do.

A graveside service for family members will follow the public service.



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