Police are searching for a five-year-old Utah girl who vanished from her parents’ home over the weekend.
On Monday, Logan City Police said investigators found forensic evidence that links 21-year-old Alex Whipple to the disappearance of his niece, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley.
“We have items involved in this incident that we can forensically link to him and her from the residence, and also evidence off of him we can link to her,” Logan City Police Captain Tyson Budge tells PEOPLE.
Budge would not say what that evidence was but said Whipple is the main suspect in the girl’s disappearance.
“We don’t have any evidence to prove she is dead,” he says. “The likelihood of recovering her alive is very slim but we don’t want to take away any hope and will search for her as hard as we can. Until we find her there are a lot of questions.”
“It is beyond sad,” he says.
Police say Whipple showed up at his sister’s home on Friday night and when her family woke up around 9 a.m. the following morning both Whipple and Elizabeth were gone.
“When the parents went to bed she was in the home and Alex was still in the home,” says Budge. “They woke up and both were gone.”
Whipple, who was on foot, was found 10 miles away about 3 p.m. Saturday in a rural area of Cache County.
Police say he failed to identify himself to officers and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for not checking in with probation officers. He was also in possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was arrested and booked into Cache County jail and was being held on $25,000 bond.
Budge says Whipple lied about his whereabouts and has been uncooperative with authorities.
“He said he left around sunrise,” he says. “We don’t have any reason to believe anything he told us. His story changed quite a bit. He said he wasn’t there and then he was there. He left and didn’t know anything about it.”
Local, state and federal police have been searching for Elizabeth since she was reported missing at 10 a.m. Saturday but it has proven difficult.
“She is a 40-pound little teeny girl and it is difficult,” says Budge. “There is a lot of space to search. 10 miles is a huge area. A lot of open fields, a lot of water way. It is rough searching. He had a lot of hours alone and a lot of space alone.”
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Police are asking for the public’s assistance and for people who live close by to check their surveillance video, yards, containers and garbage cans for anything suspicious.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 435-753-7555.