- (Photo: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)
Investigators are still searching desperately for 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley, of Glendale, Ariz., who has been missing since Oct. 11.
The little girl, who is African-American with brown eyes and shoulder length hair, stands approximately 3 feet and 5 inches tall.
According to investigators, Jhessye was last seen by her older siblings, who are 6, 9 and 12, and she was reportedly left in her home by her mother, Jerice Hunter, right before the woman left for an errand.
The family has expressed dissatisfaction with the progress of the investigation, as well as the lack of attention the case has been receiving in the mainstream media and suggested that this might be due to an element of racial insensitivity.
Some have expressed suspicion of Hunter, who was sentenced to eight years in a California prison in 2006 for child abuse. According to a court document, the charges included the torturing of her 7-year old daughter and the infliction of physical injuries on her other children.
The document also included a psychological evaluation of Hunter, which found: "Ms. Hunter will need a spectrum of psychological treatment services." It also suggested: "She will need to acquire some anger management tools in general. She will need a series of parenting classes to help her acquire more healthy and productive methods of disciplining and for caring for her children."
According to abc15.com in Arizona, Hunter faced prosecution when, in 2005, 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 is free today.
State child protective services decided to remove Hunter's three other children from her home, soon after learning of the 5-year-old girl's disappearance.
According to The Associated Press, Glendale police information officer Sgt. Brent Coombs acknowledged has Hunter's criminal record, but said, that "it cannot cloud the issue or make them [detectives] tunnel-visioned." Coombs added, "They [detectives] have to keep an open mind and look at every detail that comes in."
Hunter scolded the media Monday, at a public gathering for her daughter, for focusing too much on her past and not on finding her daughter. "We feel that law enforcement is not active in finding Jahessye and that they're more active in persecuting me instead of finding out where she is," Hunter said, according to the AP.
Reportedly, more than 100 officers and a number of volunteers searched through potential hiding places and overlooked areas, and focused on sex offenders, as well as knocked on the doors of individuals in surrounding communities in their effort to find the little girl.
Anyone with information on Jhessye Shockley is asked to call 623-930-HELP (4357).