Search continues for 5-year-old girl as uncle refuses to help police

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

Authorities in Utah will spend a fourth day Tuesday searching for a 5-year-old girl, whose uncle is suspected in her disappearance but is not cooperating with investigators, police said.

Elizabeth Shelley, of Logan, was last seen at about 2 a.m. Saturday when her mother went to bed, according to the Logan Police Department.

When Elizabeth’s mother woke up, her daughter was gone along with the young girl’s uncle Alex Whipple, 21, who was visiting the family.

Elizabeth ShelleyLogan City Police Department

When police started searching for Elizabeth, they found items nearby connected to both Elizabeth and Whipple and to the home they vanished from. Whipple was found at about 3 p.m. Saturday, according to police.

Whipple refused to identify himself and tried to run, but police determined he was wanted for violating probation on recent charges of receiving stolen property and driving under the influence. He was also in possession of drug paraphernalia and arrested on that charge and his previous warrant, police said.

He was also in possession of a metal baseball bat at the time, according to NBC affiliate KSL. Other items he had with him have since been forensically tested and are connected to Elizabeth, according to police.

The 21-year-old was “uncooperative” when detectives interviewed him, according to police. He “made several inconsistent statements at the very beginning and lied about his whereabouts which were already known.”

Alex WhippleLogan City Police Department

“We have no reason to believe anything he told us was accurate,” Logan Police Capt. Tyson Budge said.

Elizabeth’s family said in a statement that they are “overwhelmed, scared and sad at the recent tragic events that have touched our lives. We are grateful for all those who continue to search and help.”

More than 200 officials with local and federal agencies continue to search for the missing girl. Logan police are asking that anyone who saw either Elizabeth or Whipple on Saturday contact the department. They also appealed to people in Logan who have security cameras to share their footage and check their properties for anything that seems out of place.

Elizabeth was last seen wearing jeans and a red tank top. She is 3 feet 6 inches tall, with shoulder-length curly brown hair with bangs, and has brown eyes.