5-year-old Arizona resident Jahessye Shockley has been missing for almost a year. Police and other officials have been searching for her to no avail, and have subsequently decided to arrest her mother, Jerice Hunter, and charge her with felony child abuse and first-degree murder, according to ABC News. “Hunter was arrested on Nov. 21 on suspicion of child abuse,” the news outlet notes, but was not charged. Authorities say evidence was re-submitted last week that “support(s) the charges handed up in the indictment.”
In murder cases like this where there is no body, charges are always questioned. “They don’t have a body. They haven’t found Jahessye,” Hunter’s attorney said. “When you have a case where it takes that much time, it really calls into question the believability, the reliability, of whatever type of evidence they have,” he added. Investigators believe Jahessye’s body is in a landfill, but according to The Huffington Post, a 96-day search through more than 9,500 tons of trash at the Butterfield Landfill in Mobile, Arizona, “ended in late June without finding the girl’s remains.”
Hunter’s 13-year-old foster daughter told police last year that “Hunter pulled Jahessye’s hair out.” She “described Jahessye as not looking alive” but “like a zombie.” The 13-year-old told police “her mother spent the entire day cleaning the apartment and cleaning (Jahessye’s) shoes from the closet with soap and bleach.” ABC News adds that “Hunter was charged with child abuse in 2006. According to court documents, Hunter was ‘accused of torturing her 7-year-old daughter and of causing corporal injuries to three of her other children’ in California. Her children told police that Hunter would punch them and whip them, sometimes using extension cords.”
It’s interesting to note that even though Kansas infant Lisa Irwin went missing around the same time as Jahessye, there are no updates in the Irwin case, and in spite of seeming as suspicious as Hunter, Lisa’s mother Deborah Bradley has not been charged.