Body of Missing Utah 5-Year-Old Elizabeth Jessica Shelley Found

The body of a missing Utah 5-year-old was found on Wednesday after her uncle, who was charged with aggravated murder, allegedly told police where her remains were located. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, 21-year-old Alex Whipple led police to Elizabeth Jessica Shelley's body after authorities took the death penalty “off the table.” Whipple’s lawyer, Shannon Demler, told the newspaper Shelley's body was “buried under leaves and debris in a wooded area” just a quarter-mile from her home. Coroners have yet to confirm the identity of the remains, but Police Chief Gary Jensen told reporters the body found was Shelley's. “This was the moment we had hoped would come. Obviously, certainly not the way we wanted it to happen,” he said. In a letter read by the family's spokesperson, Shelley's mother said she and her family felt indescribable “sadness and the heartbreak[.]”

Shelley had been missing since May 25, and Whipple was charged with “aggravated murder, child kidnapping and desecration of a body” earlier Wednesday. Police found Shelley's blood on Whipple’s watch and sweatshirt, his palm print on a PVC pipe, and a bloody knife that matched a set in Shelley's home.