Cache Valley Man Admits To Kidnapping, Rape, Murder Of 5-Year-Old Niece
LOGAN, Utah – Waiving his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday, 21 year-old Alex Whipple admitted to the kidnapping, murder, and rape of his five year-old niece, Elizabeth Shelley. Prosecutors say while staying at his sister’s house, Whipple grabbed a knife from the kitchen, took Lizzy from her room, and left the house, with the front door open, on the morning of May 25th. He admitted to later raping her, and stabbing her in the back.
In a written statement, Lizzy’s Aunt, Liesel Merrill said that the family is hopeful that the criminal proceedings will be over soon, so that they can have time to grieve, without worrying about court hearings.
“We would like to thank those, who have offered words of comfort, thoughts and prayers, during our nightmare,” Merrill said. “We miss Lizzy immensely.”
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped a case, connected to Whipple’s arrest, which contained charges for failing to disclose his identity, carrying a baseball bat as a weapon, and several drug-related charges.
Whipple’s attorney, Shannon Demler said that Whipple is aware of the seriousness of the charges he admitted to.
“He understands that there’s a penalty to be paid for what he did,” Demler told reporters. “And he’s willing to face the punishment that comes with that.”
Still, Demler says Whipple’s defense is not over. In an upcoming sentencing hearing, he plans to ask Judge Kevin K. Allen to give Whipple some chance for parole.
“Our argument is going to be to give him a chance to change in prison,” Demler said. “We know that he’s going to be there a lot of years. We know that he’s going to face a big penalty here, but hopefully someday he may have the opportunity to be released if he reforms, and changes.”
Demler says that Whipple never had any ill will toward his family, or Lizzy, and has no clear reason for what he did.
“There was never a discussion of anybody doing anything to him, or he was paying them back or anything such as this,” Demler said. “I think that there’s some underlying tone of mental illness that is involved here, that makes a person do something like this for no apparent reason.”
Whipple’s sentencing hearing is set for September 24th. Lizzy’s family asked people to remember the five year-old’s kind spirit.
“At this time, we would like to remind everyone that Lizzy was about kindness, happiness, and looking for butterflies and rainbows,” Merill said. “We ask that people everywhere, remember to live like Lizzy.”