The uncle of little Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole after admitting to sexually assaulting and killing the 5-year-old girl in his sister’s Utah home, officials said.
“Monster,” “vile,” and the “worst kind of person humanity has to offer” were some of the terms used to describe an emotionless and silent Alex Whipple, 22, during his sentencing hearing Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.
Whipple hung his head as Judge Kevin K. Allen admonished him for the unspeakable acts he committed against Lizzy, the daughter of his sister. It was her family he was staying with the night when, on May 25, he attacked and murdered his young niece.
“You will never see the light of day. You will never breathe fresh air again,” Allen said. “What you did was so abhorrent and vile that you must spend the rest of your life in prison.”
Lizzy was reported missing May 25 by her mother, Jessica Black, who said she woke to find her daughter and her brother gone.
When Whipple was arrested that same day on unrelated charges, police said they found Lizzy’s blood on his watch and his sweatshirt. Five days later Whipple directed investigators to Lizzy’s body, which he buried under leaves and debris in the woods less than a block from her home.
A broken, bloody knife investigators said was taken from Lizzy’s home was found not far from her body.
Officials said Whipple directed them to find her remains only after prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty.
“How could someone do this to their own niece,” Dejay Smith, another uncle of Lizzy’s said in court on Tuesday. “I would hope to never see a monster like him walk through this community again.
“There are few things that are more vile than your actions,” Smith said directly to Whipple. “You are the worst kind of person humanity has to offer.”
Another of Lizzy’s uncles, Zachary Black, spoke directly to Whipple, the AP reported.
“You are filth,” he said. “I hope you spend the rest of your life in a tiny box.”
Lizzy was remembered as a sweet and happy child who loved drawing, rainbows and being outdoors. She especially loved rainbow-colored butterflies, which adorned the poster that displayed her photos at the front of the courtroom. A victim advocate who worked with her family made sure a pair of rainbow-colored tennis shoes Lizzy was excited to wear to kindergarten were also in the room.
Lizzy’s mother was not present for her brother’s sentencing. She told reporters after that she couldn’t bear to be the same room as him, instead choosing to release butterflies in honor of her daughter.
“I would give anything to be reunited with her, to hug her and hold her one more time,” she said through tears. “Our lives will never be the same. We will never forget our sweet girl and the happiness and sunshine she brought us.”