Jerice Hunter is the mother of 5-year old Jhessye Shockley, a little girl who has been missing since last year. Police arrested Hunter again on suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse in the case of her missing daughter this week. Hunter and her daughter lived in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale when the crime took place.
Hunter has been indicted by a grand jury in her daughter’s disappearance. Shockley’s body hasn’t been found, but authorities believe they have enough evidence to charge the mother for the crime.
“The indictment is not evidence,” said Scott Maasen, Hunter’s lawyer. “There is no body in this case. Cases without finding bodies are very difficult cases.”
County Attorney Bill Montgomery is determined to move forward with the case, claiming that he has successfully prosecuted cases like this one before.
“We now have the opportunity to seek justice for Jhessye and uncover the truth behind her disappearance,” Montgomery said.
Police are arguing that Shockley’s body was long gone by the time the mother called 911 to report her daughter missing. She said that her daughter had been left with her older siblings while she ran an errand. Police could not find the little girl’s body.
Glendale Police Chief Debora Black said that she believes that the girl’s body is likely at the bottom of a landfill in the town. She and 280 officers went through 9,500 tons of trash to find the girl’s body, but to no avail.
“They worked tirelessly to accomplish two goals: to find Jhessye and to hold the person responsible for her disappearance accountable,” Black said. “We are confident with the indictment and arrest, we will achieve our second goal of securing justice for Jhessye.”
Police say that the Jhessye’s siblings said that her mother abused her and kept her in the closet.