It’s been over a month since 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley was reported missing from her Glendale, Arizona, apartment. Her mother, Jerice Hunter, was arrested on Monday on a felony count of child abuse following a police interview with Jhessye’s 13-year-old sister who said her mother told her to lie about Jhessye’s disappearance, kept her in a closet and that Jhessye had cuts and bruises before she was reported missing.
Jhessye was reportedly last seen Oct. 11 after Hunter said she left her in the care of her older siblings while she ran an errand. Although a polygraph has been offered to Hunter numerous times, authorities say she’s been uncooperative. In a press conference following Hunter’s arrest, Sergeant Brent Coombs said “with the information that has come to our investigators in the past few days, we do not believe that it will be likely that we will find Jhessye alive”.
On Tuesday, Hunter appeared in court and continued to maintain her innocence before the judge ordered her to be held on a $100,000 bond because of her history of child abuse and the severity of the charge against her. According to her teenage daughter, Hunter kept Jhessye in a bedroom closet and deprived her of food and water and had seen her younger sister with “black eyes and bruises and cuts to her face and body”.
As the search continues for Jhessye, the $25,000 reward pertaining to information surrounding her disappearance remains as it’s “extremely important to us to bring that person or those persons to justice that are responsible for her disappearance”. Sergeant Coombs stressed that “investigators still work diligently to find Jhessye” and that her mother “is our No. 1 focus”. View the Glendale Police Department press conference below.