LOGAN, Utah — Logan City Police have recovered the body of missing 5-year-old Elizabeth "Lizzy" Shelley in a yard close to her home, according to an attorney representing the girl's uncle.
Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen did not confirm the identity of remains found near Lizzy's house, but said "we feel strongly" that the remains are hers.
The body was recovered after police said they received a "very credible" tip about the location.
That tip came from Alex Whipple, who was charged with murder and child kidnapping Wednesday, via his attorney, Shannon Demler.
"[Whipple] came forward with the information because of concern for the family. He know he's done something that was terribly, unjustified and can never be fixed. But he talked about it in depth. He just felt it was appropriate that his family knew the location so they could put that part behind them. Not only that, but there was a lot of people out searching for the body and things and I think it was just time to put that to sleep," Demler said.
Chief Jensen said Whipple provided the information in exchange for having the death penalty taken off the table as a potential punishment.
Demler told FOX 13 he received the information from Whipple around 1 p.m. Wednesday. Demler then led police to the location Whipple described, which he said was in a yard about a quarter block to a half block north of the home where Elizabeth had been last seen.
"She wasn't buried, but she was covered in debris," Demler said.
Demler said he and Whipple haven't yet had a detailed discussion of the events leading to Elizabeth's death.
"We haven't got into that, necessarily yet. We were more worried about taking care of this part of the case and then we'll move onto that in the future," Demler said. "We've talked about the basics, but nothing in depth about that."
Demler didn't know of a specific motive for the murder, but said mental illness is a possibility.
The family also issued a statement Wednesday evening:
"There are not words to express the sadness and heartbreak we feel today. This did not end the way we wanted it to. But in this sadness we are comforted that so many people put forth so much effort to help us find Lizzy. You made the difference and we are so very thankful.
We would never have expected this outpouring of help and support, we could not have gone through this by ourselves. We were able to feel the love of so many people most who we never met. You all didn’t stop, we have never seen so many people trying so hard and it was beautiful. From donations to keep the searchers strong, to the searchers who didn’t give up, to law enforcement, the county attorney's office, community members, and many others please know we felt your support and love and were comforted by it.
We can’t find the words to say thank you, it means so much to us. Lizzy was such a caring and giving little girl, we hope that we can all look to her example of how to live. We live in a great community. We ask at this time that you continue to respect our privacy as we mourn the loss of our Lizzy."
The paternal side of the Shelley family also issued a statement Wednesday night:
"As the Shelley’s, the paternal side of Lizzy’s family, who do not live up this way and have had to be involved thus far from a distance, we plead for our little girl. No small child like our Lizzy should have to go through the suffering that she did during this nightmare. As a family we are deeply mortified at the thought of the unknowing. It’s hard to imagine the feelings of the Whipple’s, the maternal side of Lizzy's family. first having Lizzy gone and then finding out their son and brother is involved. We both empathize and sympathize with them. We send Jess and other family members our deepest love and heartfelt prayers of comfort. We would like to thank all individuals in all agencies, organizations, those throughout so many communities, and even states for their endless around the clock efforts, sleepless nights, and time away from home and families to bring our baby girl home. We would like to extend our gratitude for those in the community who have donated food to feed those who are part of the search teams and those who have donated other items that have been needed and helpful throughout this process at this time. The love and support we have been shown as one big family standing behind Lizzy gives us so much hope for our community. Again we would like to thank those in the surrounding areas who followed the direction given by law enforcement and other agencies who have checked their property, garbage cans, out buildings and surveillance videos. We thank everyone who has held out hope in finding our baby girl."
The Cache County Children's Justice Center states a donation account has been opened for the family at Zions Bank in the name "Elizabeth Shelley Donation". There is also a GoFundMe page.