Mom of missing Glendale girl released from jail

PHOENIX - The Maricopa County Attorney's Office says the mother of a missing Glendale girl has been released from jail because charges were not filed against her before a deadline passed.

Jerice Hunter was arrested last week and booked into jail on one felony count of child abuse. She was being held on a $100,000 bond.

Hunter is the mother of 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley who allegedly disappeared from her home October 11.

The Glendale Police Department responded to the release of Hunter in a statement saying, "This decision will allow the Glendale Police Department to follow up on new leads developed since the search warrant and arrest of Jerice Hunter … as well as complete forensic analysis of evidence."

Hunter's neighbors were surprised to she was allowed to go free.

"With the FBI out here, I thought they had something," said neighbor Karla Brown.  "I guess they don't have the evidence."

Criminal defense attorney Vladimir Gagic tells ABC15 statements from children are typically unreliable.

Gagic says Glendale Police will need to come up with forensic evidence linking Hunter to her daughter's disappearance in order to make the charges stick.

"Why did they arrest her in the first place, the evidence seemed very flimsy," asked Gagic.  "Maybe they were trying to bluff so she'd confess.  If that's the case, this is some shoddy police work at this point."

Police added, "…the focus and direction of the investigation into the disappearance of Jhessye Shockley has not changed."

Hunter could still be indicted on the child abuse charge.

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