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'Live Like Lizzy:' Little Girl Allegedly Murdered By Uncle Remembered For Her Love Of Nature
5-year-old Elizabeth "Lizzy" Shelley was found murdered just days after she disappeared from her parents' house.
The little Utah girl that investigators say was murdered by her own uncle was laid to rest Tuesday, June 4, in a casket which honored her love of nature.
Elizabeth "Lizzy" Shelley, 5, went missing on May 26. Just days later, her little body was found in a wooded area just blocks from her house after her 21-year-old uncle and suspected murderer, Alex Whipple, allegedly told investigators where to find her in an effort to avoid the death penalty.
Relatives remembered Shelley as a nature-loving, patient child. Her white coffin paid homage to her interest it nature: It was covered in rainbow butterflies flying by the phrase "Live like Lizzy,” written in black.
To live like Lizzy meant appreciating the beauty of nature.
"If you were to walk along the street with her and pluck a leaf from a tree to give to her, she would accept it as though she were accepting a beautiful bouquet of flowers," her aunt Bonnie Black said at a remembrance ceremony for the child, Deseret News reports.
She said the child loved making floral bouquets from weeds.
Jessica Whipple and her fiancé Detrich Black held each other during the emotional service.
“I don’t think anybody really prepares you for the loss of a child,” Whipple said during the service. “I never had any thought of this happening. I’m so grateful that I tucked you in real good, that I said I loved you.”
She said her daughter's words have been permanently imprinted on her.
"Whenever she’d see the moon, she’d say, ‘Wow, the moon!’ And if I didn’t say anything, she’d say, ‘Mom, did you hear what I said?’”
Now, Whipple said she will now think of that every time she looks up at the moon.
Black, who said he raised Shelley, recounted how he and Shelley chased bugs and looked for cool rocks together.
“Lizzy, you will always be in my heart, you’ll always be my daughter, and I will always love you,” he said.
The brother of Shelley’s biological father was charged with aggravated murder last week in addition to child kidnapping, two counts of obstructing justice, and abuse or desecration of a body.
“He knows he’s involved in a very, very serious matter,” Shannon Demler, the defense attorney for Whipple, told PEOPLE around the time the body was discovered. “After I met with him for a few hours, he decided it would be best for everyone involved if he told the authorities the location of the body.”
He’s being held without bail, a judge ordered a day before Shelley’s funeral.
Prosecutor James Swink told reporters after Monday's hearing that the entire community was in mourning.
"Today's priority isn't about court and the case so much, it's about the family,” he said.
A motive for the killing has not been revealed.