Glendale police: We have forensic evidence linking Jerice Hunter to Jhessye Shockley disappearance

GLENDALE, AZ - Glendale police said they are confident that their evidence will lead to the conviction of Jerice Hunter in the murder of her daughter , Jhessye Shockley.

Hunter was arrested Thursday on charges of first degree murder and child abuse. Jhessye Shockley was 5 years old when she was reported missing in October 2011.

Authorities arrested Hunter at her home in Mesa Thursday afternoon. Police said she did not resist arrest.

She made her first court appearance later Thursday. Hunter remained quiet and allowed her lawyer to do most of the talking. 

This is the second time Hunter has been arrested in connection with this case . Charges were dropped the first time. Police said they needed more time to build a case against her.

Tracey Breeden, spokeswoman with the Glendale Police Department, said they have forensic evidence in the case.

Breeden said additional information was provided after the first arrest that gave them a stronger case.

Breeden also said she could not go into further detail because she didn't want to jeopardize the case.

According to court documents, police believe Hunter killed Jhessye or caused serious physical injury between September 23, 2011 and October 4, 2011.

Police have said they believe Jhessye's body was disposed of days before her mother reported her missing at an apartment complex near Glendale and 45th avenues on October 11, 2011.

Here's a look at the timeline of events:

  • October 2011: Police, along with community members, launched a massive search for Jhessye. Fliers were passed out near Jhessye's home at 45th and Glendale avenues. An amber alert was issued.  Federal agents became involved.
  • Police later called off the search. Right around the same time, ABC15 discovered Hunter had served prison time in California for child abuse years earlier.
  • In November, Hunter was arrested at her home in Glendale on child abuse charges. The charges were later dropped. Police said they received additional information and needed more time. The county attorney was concerned about a double jeopardy issue, according to Breeden. Double jeopardy is a procedural defense which prevents a person from being tried on similar charges twice.
  • In February 2012, police started a search at Butterfield landfill. They said Jhessye's body was dumped in a Tempe trash bin and transported to the landfill. After more than four months of sifting through tons of trash, police called off the landfill search. No body was recovered.
  • Lisa Vance, Jhessye's cousin, expressed concern that they would not be able to give Jhessye a proper burial. 

In response to this latest arrest Hunter's attorney, Scott Maasen, said all the facts are not out there yet.

"There hasn't been any information presented and that indictment has very general language. Nothing really specific about the facts here. Again, I think we are going to see that," Maasen said. 

Maasen said he spoke with Hunter after the arrest. She's doing as well as she can given the situation, he said.

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