SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A body found after a five-day search is that of a 5-year-old girl taken from her home and killed by her uncle, Utah police confirmed on Thursday.
Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley’s remains were located in a heavily wooded area less than a block from her home on Wednesday, but authorities could not immediately confirm it was her.
Also Thursday, a 911 call released by Logan Police revealed the panic her parents felt moments after realizing she was missing.
Detrich Black, the boyfriend of Shelley’s mother Jessica Whipple, was calm but distraught as he reported the 5-year-old’s disappearance. “My daughter is missing,” he tells the dispatcher. “We woke up and the front door is wide open.”
The girl was reported missing Saturday morning, and officers spent five days combing the city set in a picturesque valley near the Idaho border about 80 miles (129 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City.
The body was found after the girl’s 21-year-old uncle Alex Whipple gave his lawyer a map of where she was hidden. In exchange, prosecutors promised not to pursue the death penalty.
Whipple killed her Saturday after spending the night at his sister’s house and hid the body under trees and brush, prosecutors have said. He was charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping and other counts.
Defense attorney Shannon Demler has said his client did something inexcusable but wants the family to find closure.
The child’s blood was found on Whipple’s watch and sweatshirt, authorities said, and his handprint was discovered on a PVC pipe. Nearby was a broken knife taken from the family’s kitchen bearing the blood of the girl.
Whipple has a criminal record that includes a 2016 assault, possession of a stolen vehicle and drug-related charges.