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Eli Lucero
Alexander Whipple appears 1st District Court in Logan on Monday, July 24, 2019, where a preliminary hearing was set for Aug. 13. Whipple is accused of murdering and sexually abusing his 5-year-old niece Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley.

LOGAN — A preliminary hearing has been set for the man accused of murdering and sexually abusing his 5-year-old niece, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley.

Alexander William Whipple, 21, appeared in a pink jumpsuit in Logan's 1st District Court Monday, where the hearing was scheduled for Aug. 13.

Whipple is charged with aggravated murder and child kidnapping, first-degree felonies; two counts of obstructing justice, second-degree felonies; and abuse or desecration of a body, a third-degree felony.

After receiving additional evidence from the Utah State Crime Lab, prosecutors filed charges of rape and sodomy, first-degree felonies, on June 5, one day after Lizzy was laid to rest in the Logan City Cemetery.

He has not yet entered pleas to the charges.

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Lizzy was reported missing on May 25 after her mother — Whipple’s sister — and her fiance woke up to find Lizzy and Whipple gone from their house. Whipple had been invited to stay on their couch after drinking the night before, court documents say.

Five days later, Whipple agreed to tell his attorney where his niece’s body was. Police found Lizzy’s remains a half block away from her home, bringing a five-day search to a close. In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to pursue a potential death sentence against him.

Norman Black, who identified himself as Lizzy's grandfather, said outside the courtroom that the family has appreciated how much support they've received from others in Cache County and how diligent prosecutors have been.