Alexander Whipple SMALL

Alexander Whipple stands next to his lawyer Shannon Demler, while in 1st District Court to set a date for a preliminary hearing on Monday. Whipple has been charged with seven felonies including aggravated murder in connection with the death of 5-year-old Lizzy Shelley.

LOGAN, Utah — An August court date was set for a 21-year-old man accused of the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of a child.

Alexander Whipple appeared in First District Court on Monday afternoon with his attorney, Shannon Demler, where a date of Aug. 13 was set for a preliminary hearing. That is the time set for the Cache County Attorney’s Office to demonstrate that it has sufficient evidence to charge Whipple for the death of his niece, 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley.

Whipple reportedly visited Shelley’s home late on the night of May 24. When her family awakened the next morning, the front door was wide open and both Whipple and the child were gone.

He was spotted near Hyrum several hours later and later arrested, but it was four agonizing days before the child’s body was located beneath debris less than 1,000 feet northwest of her home. Hundreds of police and emergency responders from dozens of agencies local and otherwise searched for the girl, but she wasn't found until Whipple ultimately told them where to look. According to Demler, after Whipple was told the facts of the case and what evidence investigators uncovered, he agreed to tell searchers where to look if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.

Whipple has been charged with capital murder, child kidnapping, rape of a child, sodomy of a child, desecration of a human body and two counts of obstruction of justice.

He is currently being held in the Cache County Jail and he is not allowed bail.

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Amy Macavinta is the crime reporter for The Herald Journal. She can be reached at