Jerice Hunter, the mother of Jhessye Shockley, a 5-year-old who was reported missing last fall, has been arrested and charged with her daughter’s murder.
Hunter reported Jhessye Shockley missing from her Glendale, Arizona, home on October 11. Hunter claimed her daughter wandered out of the house while her three older siblings were supposed to be watching her. She says she went to a store and when she came back Jhessye was gone.
Jhessye’s body has never been found, but police declared the case a homicide and named Jerice Hunter the “primary focus” late last year. Hunter was arrested in November and spent a week in jail on charges of alleged child abuse.
Investigators believe Jhessye’s body was dumped in a trash bin “prior to the report of Jhessye’s disappearance on October 11" and ended up at a landfill.
Glendale Police Chief Debora Black said, “We believe that Jhessye is at her final resting place at the Butterfield Station Landfill.” Officials spent more than 90 days searching that landfill but never recovered her body.
On Thursday, a grand jury indicted Hunter and she was arrested later that afternoon. Hunter faces charges of first-degree murder and felony child abuse. Hunter maintains that she had nothing to do with Jhessye's disappearance. Her attorney tells CNN she “certainly declares her innocence.”
For complete coverage of this story tune into Jane Velez-Mitchell tonight at 7 p.m. ET on HLN.