(LOGAN CITY, Utah) — A 21-year-old man in Utah has been charged with aggravated murder in the case of his 5-year-old niece who has been missing for days, police announced Wednesday.Elizabeth Jessica Shelley was reported missing on May 25, according to the Logan City Police Department.Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen appeared emotional during a news conference on Wednesday when he announced that Cash County prosecutors had charged Elizabeth’s uncle, Alex Whipple, with aggravated murder, child kidnapping, desecration of a body and two counts of obstructing justice.Whipple did not live with his sister or his sister’s daughter, Elizabeth, but had stayed at their home on the night of May 24, according to a probable cause affidavit.Whipple, Elizabeth’s mother and her boyfriend drank alcohol together that night. The next morning, both Whipple and Elizabeth were gone, court documents said.Whipple, the sole suspect in Elizabeth’s disappearance, was taken into custody on Saturday, police said.When he was in custody, Whipple “began licking his hands and trying to wipe his hands clean,” court documents said.He told police he left his sister’s home shortly before sunrise on May 25 and that he never saw Elizabeth the night before because she was already in bed when he arrived, the documents said.Whipple told police that “alcohol makes him ‘black out’ and sometimes he does ‘criminal things’ when he blacks out,” the documents said.Evidence in the case includes a bloody knife with Elizabeth’s DNA profile on it, which was recovered in a parking lot, according to the court documents. The knife matched the brand of knives in Elizabeth’s family’s home and the knife block in that home was found to be missing a knife, the documents said.Whipple’s watch and sweatshirt were also found to have his 5-year-old niece’s DNA profile, according to the documents.Investigators also recovered a PVC pipe with a partial palm print matching Whipple’s, documents said.It was not immediately clear when Whipple was due to appear in court on these charges.A motive was still unknown, Jensen said on Tuesday.Meanwhile, there is an ongoing search for Elizabeth’s body, Jensen said on Wednesday, adding, “We’re all living this together and we’re doing the best we can to bring this to a close.”
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