Police were able to quickly connect a man to the disappearance and death of a 5-year-old Utah girl using a new type of DNA test that can produce results within hours, authorities said.
Logan police used a Rapid DNA test to link Alex Whipple to the Saturday disappearance of his niece, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, KSL-TV reported .
Police had announced Tuesday that they had “strong evidence” against the 21-year-old uncle, who had been staying at his sister’s house in Logan, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City.
After the girl was reported missing, investigators found her blood on Whipple’s watch and sweatshirt, authorities said. They also found a broken knife taken from the home with the girl’s blood.
The Rapid DNA machines allowed investigators to match the evidence within hours, leading to Whipple being charged with aggravated murder and other counts before the girl’s body had been found, said Nate Mutter, a special agent with the state attorney general’s office. The process of matching DNA can take weeks.
The child’s body was found in a wooded area less than a block from her home on Wednesday after Whipple gave his lawyer a map of where she was hidden. Prosecutors said they would not pursue the death penalty in exchange for the map.
The attorney general’s office has two of the machines.