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Police say DNA links uncle to the disappearance of Utah child

This undated photo from the Logan City Police Department shows Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, who was missing Saturday 25 May 2019. Logan police chief Gary Jensen told reporters Tuesday, May 28, that the researchers have “strong evidence” including DNA linking her uncle Alex Whipple disappearing. (Logan City Police Department via AP)

LOGAN, Utah – DNA is further proof that the 21-year-old uncle of a missing 5-year-old girl in Utah is behind her disappearance, police said Tuesday.

Also turns out the girl, Elisabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, is injured, but the police didn’t go in.

“We would never dash the hopes that we would find her alive,” Logan police chief Gary Jensen said at a press conference. “But it is certainly a concern for us at this point; Lizzy’s safety.”

Jensen said the police have ‘strong evidence’, including the DNA, the pairing of Alex Whipple to the disappearance of Shelley. He is expected to make a court appearance Tuesday in Logan.

Shelley was reported missing Saturday by her family after she woke up.

The girl and her uncle were last seen for the members of the family went to bed about 2 hours, Jensen said. The uncle was staying at the house that night but not live.

The search is focused on a one-half mile (0.8 km) area around the family’s home in Logan, in a picturesque valley near the Idaho border, approximately 80 miles (129 km) north of Salt Lake City.

Whipple was found later Saturday at about 10 km from the house. He was aggressive and refused to identify himself several times with the police saw him walking in a secluded area, according to the court documents.

The police found him with a metal baseball bat, alcohol, and drug paraphernalia. Jensen said the bat is not part of the evidence in the disappearance.

Whipple was booked into Cache County Jail for investigation of probation violations, failure to identify himself to the police and possession of a controlled substance. He has not been charged in the disappearance.

It is unknown whether he has an attorney. His court-appointed lawyers in his past cases not immediately return phone messages.

In 2016, Whipple was convicted of assaulting his roommate in an incident of domestic violence, according to court records.

In that same year, Whipple was arrested after police said he stole his neighbor’s car and drove under the influence of alcohol. A 40 mile (64-km) chase that ended when the Utah Highway Patrol spiked the tires of the car, court documents show.

Whipple, was sentenced to prison in March 2018, but his term was suspended, and he was instead ordered to serve 180 days in prison and five years of probation.

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Associated Press writer Morgan Smith contributed to this story.

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