Elizabeth Shelley: Missing 5-Year-Old’s Uncle Charged With Murder

Elizabeth Shelley: Missing 5-Year-Old’s Uncle Charged With Murder

Logan City authorities are still searching for 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley in Utah, following reports that the chief suspect in her disappearance is both under arrest and has been charged with murder. Despite the fact that a body has not been recovered, authorities have released statements characterizing the evidence in the case as solid.

The Cache County Attorney’s Office also recently released a grateful statement from the family, “As a family, we are overwhelmed, scared and sad at the recent tragic events that have touched our lives.” The desperate and miserable circumstances of little Elizabeth’s disappearance have been further compounded by the alleged involvement of her uncle, Alex Whipple.

Elizabeth Shelley was last seen at home by her mother in their Logan City home around 2AM on Saturday, May 25. This is also the time Whipple was last seen, because he was spending the night at the house. What followed was a crucial and narrow window of seven hours (2AM – 9AM) in which police have stated they believe Whipple left the house with the missing child. Around 10AM that morning, Elizabeth Shelley is reported missing by her family. Multiple investigating entities were brought in to find both Elizabeth Shelley and her uncle, including the FBI, the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and Violent Crimes Task Force, Homeland Security, Cache County Sheriff’s Office, North Park Police Department, Smithfield Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, Adult Probation and Parole and Great Basin K9.

This missing child investigation is another in a string of recent cases in which police have attempted to utilize private home footage from external CCTV systems and smart doorbells in order to fill in the gaps in a case’s timeline. In recent weeks, Houston law enforcement has employed similar investigative methods to find answers in the disappearance of Maleah Davis. Evidence obtained from the locals’ security systems and public CCTV surveillance cameras led police to investigating the girl’s mother’s former boyfriend. Authorities searching for Elizabeth Shelley continue to ask the community to review their own footage in the hopes that they might see something informative to their investigation.

When Whipple was located around 3PM that Saturday afternoon, the police took him into custody on the basis there was a warrant out for his arrest for failure to comply with the terms of his parole. Police recovered evidence in the vicinity of Elizabeth’s home and surrounding areas that are linked to both Whipple and the missing child. DNA obtained from some of Elizabeth’s personal items allowed police to test these items for matches to her genetic profile. Local media has reported on the grizzly list of items investigators have found related to the case. On May 28th, Chief Gary Jensen of the Logan City Police Department said in a press conference, “we have strong evidence connecting Alex to Lizzy’s disappearance.” As of Wednesday, he continues to exercise his right to remain silent.

As of May 29th, Alex Whipple is formally charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping, desecration of a body, and two counts of obstruction of justice for his continued lack of cooperation with the investigation.

Update: Late on Wednesday, May 29th, reports came in that a body believed to be 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley was found less than a block from her home after Whipple told his lawyer where he had hidden her. According to reports, Whipple provided the location of the child’s body in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table.

Hope revived in search of Elizabeth Gill, child who disappeared in 1965

Hope revived in search of Elizabeth Gill, child who disappeared in 1965

Elizabeth Gill was only 2 ½ years old when she vanished from her family’s home, in the area of the 300 block of south Larimer Street in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The little blonde haired toddler had been playing in the front yard with a sand pail on June 13, 1965, at approximately 4PM. Decades later, the family has never given up the faith that they will find her alive.The family has long believed a group of drifters that had been staying at a hotel in the area of Elizabeth’s residence may have kidnapped her. A witness reported seeing the individuals on two different occasions try to lure Elizabeth into their vehicle. The drifters had been selling purses close to the house, and early on in the investigation considered persons of interest, but could never be located.

Detective Jim Smith reopened the cold case in 2003. Smith told the Associated Press, “What do they think about every night, every holiday, every birthday? Their family has never been complete. They are always going to wonder what happened to Elizabeth. If I could give them an answer, it would be one of the greatest things that’s has ever happened to me as a law enforcement officer.”

Recently, the family hired a private detective who visited with Smith and Elizabeth’s sister, Martha Gill-Hamilton. Mike Neverett, a Florida private investigator, and Smith believe it may only be a matter of time before they solve this mystery. Neverett traveled to Missouri this April to meet with Elizabeth’s family and the detective to research the case.

Taking an interesting approach, Neverett, who has been involved in the case for over seven years, recently visited the old Gill home on Lorimar Street and began taking pictures of what he describes as “pictures through the eyes of a child.” Clicking pictures of surrounding homes and the neighborhood from the height Elizabeth would have been at time of her disappearance. He hopes this may jar the memory of a woman who would now be 49 years old, and the youngest of ten children. Elizabeth’s father passed away in 1970 never knowing what happened to the youngest apple of his eye, but Elizabeth’s mother and remaining siblings have never given up hope of being reunited.

Having worked alongside law enforcement for nearly two decades with many cold cases, I agree this case had all the potential elements of a solvable case. With increased national news exposure, law enforcement and private investigators working cooperatively, and especially utilizing the power of social media, there is a good potential of bringing Elizabeth home to her family. The pictures could be the key to jogging the memory of a woman who has never truly known who she is.

Even I have memories of standing in my crib calling out to my mother because I had an earache. I could not have been more than a year and a half old. The mind stores everything and things decades old like a smell, a sound, and yes, even a picture can take us back. We also know in every case of a suspicious disappearance of a child or adult, someone out there knows something.

We can all take a part in reuniting Elizabeth with her family by sharing her information. Let us all unite as a real social community and bring Elizabeth home!
For additional information, please visit www.missingkids.com. If you have information or believe you may be Elizabeth Gill, please call Det. Jim Smith at the Cape Girardeau (MO) Police Department at 573-335-6621, ext. 1120.

Author – Kym L. Pasqualini
Founder, National Center for Missing Adults
& Social Network Advocate
Missing Persons Advocacy Network