The father of a missing 5-year-old Utah girl whose uncle has been named “the main suspect” in her disappearance spoke out in his defense, while police maintained the man had continued to be uncooperative and lie to investigators.
Elizabeth Shelley was last seen at her family’s home about 2 a.m. Saturday, several hours after her mother’s brother, Alex Whipple, arrived to stay the night, Logan City police said.
By the time Elizabeth’s mother woke about 9 a.m., both she and Whipple, 21, were gone, officials said.
Those in the home searched for nearly an hour and then called police, who brought in multiple agencies to assist in their efforts to find Elizabeth and Whipple.
“Officers located several items of interest a short distance from the home,” police said in a statement. “This item has been tested and there is forensic evidence of 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley. This evidence also connects Mr. Whipple to the residence from which she went missing and to Elizabeth herself.
“Some items were then located another short distance away which also shows a forensic connection to our missing 5-year-old,” police continued.
Whipple was found walking alone about 3 p.m. He did not identify himself to police, but authorities knew he had a warrant out for not checking in with a probation officer. They also allegedly found he had drug paraphernalia on him.
He was transported to the Logan City Police Department, where he allegedly made “several inconsistent statements at the very beginning and lied about his whereabouts, which were already known,” cops said.
Whipple was also allegedly uncooperative throughout the interrogation, officials said.
Several search warrants were obtained and executed Sunday at several scenes and for evidence from Whipple.
“The evidence obtained from Alex Whipple was tested and there are confirmed forensic evidence from Elizabeth Shelley located from off his person,” Logan City police said.
The department’s update into their investigation into Elizabeth’s disappearance came several hours after her father defended Whipple on social media, saying he didn’t believe he was capable of harming the little girl.
“I knew Alex and was good friends with him for a while before I met Jess,” Wes Shelley wrote in a comment replying to a Facebook user. “I don’t think he could or would do it to his niece.”
It was not immediately clear if Shelley knew the person he was speaking to, but his comments were made on Elizabeth’s mother Jessica Whipple’s Facebook.
Shelley wrote to Jessica that he “would appreciate a call” and that he knows “how it feels to have her go missing in the middle of the night.”
By Tuesday, Jessica’s Facebook appeared to have been deactivated.
Shelley continued to address his daughter’s disappearance on his own Facebook page.
“Jess, Izzy I'm so sorry that this is happening to you two, I've been dead for so long over you two. Jess is also a victim here. I blame me for losing them,” Shelley wrote.
Shelley did not respond to InsideEdition.com’s request for comment.
More than 200 law enforcement officers from a dozen different agencies have set out to search for Elizabeth.
“These agencies include the FBI including their Child Exploitation Task Force and Violent Crimes Task Force, Homeland Security, Cache County Sheriff’s Office, North Park Police Department, Smithfield Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, Adult Probation and Parole and Great Basin K9,” Logan City police said.
Authorities have asked residents and business owners in Logan, Nibley and Hyrum with video cameras to contact them at 435-753-7555 so they can review the footage. Anyone with information about Alex and Elizabeth’s whereabouts Saturday are also asked to call police.