Five-year-old Lizzy Shelley was laid to rest Tuesday afternoon at Babyland in the Logan City Cemetery following a funeral service that was a picture of Lizzy, of family and community.
Lizzy’s mother, Jessica Whipple, said people always told her that giving birth would be the hardest thing she ever did. When the day came, she was prepared for it — and it was hard — she said, but at the end of the day, there was Lizzy.
“You learn it isn’t about you anymore … and every day, you fall more and more in love,” she said. “But I don’t think anyone prepares for the loss of a child, and when it surprises you, it is so hard because you never prepared.”
Shelley was reported missing on Saturday, May 25, and it would be five days before her body was found less than a block from her home.
She was allegedly murdered by her uncle, Alexander Whipple, 21.
During those five days, Whipple said she and her fiance, Detrich Black, had to be stronger than they ever had before. While police were combing the neighborhood looking for her daughter, messages and donations were pouring in, giving her strength as the days wore on.
“Never stop doing that for people,” she said.
During the funeral, conducted by Logan City Police Capt. Curtis Hooley, Shelley was described as a girl with a bright and colorful soul, with big, brown eyes full of wonder.
“If you went on a walk with Lizzy, there was a good chance she would gift you with a piece of nature,” said her aunt, Bonnie Black.
Lizzy was a child who was delighted by insects and found as much beauty in a weed as there is in a flower. She couldn’t pick a favorite color because she loved them all, so the rainbow became her “color.”
“She loved everyone and everyone loved her,” Black said.
By all accounts, these are the traits that have inspired the phrase “Live like Lizzy,” and they were echoed in a statement made by her grandfather, Norman Black, prior to the funeral service.
“If you are out and about and you find yourself admiring nature around you, think of Lizzy. As you are out and about, and you find yourself looking at a sunset or any of the beauty that is this earth we live on, think of Lizzy and the things that she loved — rocks, flowers, sunsets, and especially rainbows,” he said. “As you live your life the best that you know how, remember Lizzy and live your life as Lizzy would live hers.”
Shelley, who was buried in a glossy white casket adorned with rainbow-colored butterflies, was escorted to the cemetery in a procession that included hundreds of bikers, a row of tow trucks, and Logan City Police, while hundreds of people lined 100 West near Nyman Funeral Home.
Lance Pitcher, who lives in the area, was one of those onlookers. While he and his wife did not attend the viewing, they wanted to show their support to the community and to the family.
“It was the least we could do to show our support,” he said.