The death penalty is off the table for a man accused of killing 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley in exchange for information leading to the recovery of her body, according to Utah authorities.
In a press conference on Wednesday evening, Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen confirmed the deal had been approved and an attorney for Alex Whipple provided a map leading investigators to a wooded area.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Jensen announced in an earlier news conference that Whipple — Shelley’s uncle — is facing criminal charges including murder, kidnapping, abuse or desecration of a human body and obstruction of justice.
While earlier reports revealed a body had been found, the subsequent announcement filled in some of the details.
“This is about one half of a block away from Lizzy’s home,” Jensen said, noting search parties had already scoured the “very, very overgrown” area without finding the remains.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve been through that area and were unable to find her,” Jensen said.
While he cautioned that a medical examiner will have to officially confirm the identity of the body unearthed at the site, the police chief was clear that all signs point to it being the body of the missing girl.
“Being able to positively identify, I’m not able to do that and neither are my detectives,” he noted, adding that they “feel strongly that Lizzy has been found.”
He expressed gratitude for the various agencies and volunteers from across the state for aiding in the search, reiterating that there is plenty of investigatory work yet to do.
“We don’t have a motive at this point,” he said. “The investigation is ongoing and we still have a lot of things to sift through.”
“It’s been amazing,” Jensen said, explaining that the “outreach of our wonderful community has been just unbelievable.”
Jill Parker, a spokesperson for Shelley’s mother, read a prepared statement in response to the latest updates.
“There are not words to express the sadness and heartbreak we feel today,” the statement began.
Despite the result of the search for her “caring and giving little girl,” however, Shelley’s mother is appreciative for everyone who investigated, volunteered and supported the family during this period.
“You made the difference and we are very thankful,” she wrote.