It has been 20 days since Jhessye Shockley went missing, and investigators have still not found a solid lead that could lead them to the 5-year-old little girl from Glendale, Ariz.
On Oct. 27, the aunt and grandmother of little Jhessye, Shirley Johnson and Josie Hunter, spoke out on HLN’s "The Dr. Drew Show".
Much of the controversy surrounding this case involves the little girl’s mother, Jerice Hunter, who was sentenced to eight years in a California prison in 2006 for child abuse. The charges included the torturing of her 7-year old daughter and the infliction of physical injuries on her other children.
Hunter faced prosecution when, in 2005, Johnson, the children's grandmother, decided to call police after spotting a cut on her 13-year-old granddaughter's leg. Three other children in the home were also suffering from injuries to their bodies.
In Jan. 2006, in exchange for a no-contest plea, prosecutors dropped torture charges against Hunter and she began serving her time in prison. She appealed her sentence but was denied by the courts. It is unclear why she was allowed to go free today.
According to local news station KPHO, George Shockley, Jhessye's father, is a registered sex offender and is currently serving time in a California prison. The news station cites Solano County district attorney as saying that Shockley was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Sept. 8, 2006.
Josie was asked if she thought Jerice might be involved in the disappearance of her own daughter.
"If the police find evidence of whoever did it, including Jerice ... [they] should be held accountable," Josie said.
Jerice, herself, has lobbed criticism at the media and at investigators for focusing on her past, instead of finding her little girl.
"We feel that law enforcement is not active in finding Jhessye and that they're more active in persecuting me instead of finding out where she is," according to The Associated Press.
Josie continued her response, at the same time demonstrating little confidence in the innocence of her niece.
"I cannot say I know for sure that Jerice did this or anything like that. I want them to look at everyone. I don't know what happened. I was not here. That's why we're looking to detectives and investigators to find this out …and if they feel that she has done something, then get the evidence and bring it out front and do what you have to do ... She [Jerice] has a past, and I don't agree with it."