JHESSYE SHOCKLEY – ENDANGERED MISSING October 11, 2011 – UPDATED 10.17.2013
Date of Birth: April 1, 2006
Height: 3’5” Weight: 55 lbs
Hair: Black Eyes: Brown
Missing: October 11, 2011 From: Glendale, AZ
Last Seen Wearing: White T-Shirt, Blue Jean Shorts and Pink Sandals
On October 11th, 2011, Jerice Hunter, Jhessye Shockley’s mother, returned home to her apartment near 45th and Glendale after running errands, discovering the little girl missing. And thus began the unravelling of a tragic and deeply disturbing life of a beautiful little girl.
Police initially believed Jhessye had simply unlocked the front door herself and wandered out. It wasn’t until scouring the neighborhood with air and ground units and finding no trace of the little girl did they start to question the circumstances of her disappearance.
When Hunter claimed to believe officials were not doing all they could, she demonstrated at the state capitol in Phoenix, saying her daughter’s case wasn’t getting the attention it deserved because she is black. However, as investigators looked more deeply into the case, the disappearance of the little girl was shed in a completely different light, one in which Hunter was clearly not the concerned mother she was attempting to portray.
A court document released says Hunter’s teenage daughter later told police that she hadn’t seen Jhessye since September, not October as was previously stated. Jhessye was also reported missing from school from early September. According to school officials Hunter called and reported the child had pinkeye and other health issues.
In lieu of this information it begs the question – When did little Jhessye really go missing?
Officials have stated that they no longer believe Jhessye Shockley is alive.
Police interviewed Jhessye’s older sister, 13, and learned of the shocking abuse Jhessye endured on a daily basis. According to the sister, a few weeks ago before Jhessye’s disappearance, their mother became furious when she found Jhessye watching TV with a neighbour boy while wearing a long T-Shirt. Hunter proceeded to call the little girl a ‘ho’ and dragged her into a bedroom where the sister could hear Jhessye screaming and crying.
Jhessye’s sister stated that the little girl was being physically abused, often sporting black eyes, bruises and cuts. Jhessye was neglected in the weeks prior to her disappearance. Their mother, Hunter, kept Jhessye in a bedroom closet (estimated to be 6 ft X 2.5 ft) and didn’t give her food or water. The 13 year old girl stated that the closet her mother kept Jhessye in ‘looked like a grave and smelled like dead people’. The sister also revealed that Jhessye’s hair was pulled out and described her baby sister as not looking alive, looking more like a zombie.
Quite possibly the most disturbing twist in this nightmare, was when the 13 year old sister told police that Hunter had coached her and the other children to lie about the last time they saw Jhessye, as the children in the home did NOT see her the day that she disappeared. The sister also reported seeing Hunter cleaning the entire apartment, especially the closet where Jhessye was kept, and shoes from her closet with bleach a few days before she contacted police. Child Protective Services removed Hunter’s other children the day after Jhessye was reported missing. Hunter later gave birth and that child was also removed from the home.
The true tragedy of this entire tale, is that Jerice Hunter was not even supposed to have custody of any of her children due to her conviction for CHILD ABUSE years before. Hunter came under scrutiny during the investigation for an October 2005 arrest with her then-husband, George Shockley, on child abuse charges in California. She pleaded no contest to corporal punishment and served about four years in prison before she was released on parole in May 2010. George Shockley is a convicted sex offender and is still in a California prison. Hunter’s mother, Shirley Johnson, had illegally returned the children to her when she left California to move to Arizona. She said her daughter changed after prison and became a loving mother. This statement does not ring true in actuality, and one can only wonder what kind of life Jhessye Shockley would have had, had she been protected from her mother, as the court had specified. Please take a moment to vote on the poll below regarding your perspective on the children being returned to Hunter.
After all of this began to come to light, Jerice Hunter was arrested for a felony count of child abuse, and was held on $100,000.00 bond at Maricopa County Jail. Hunter was released Monday, November 28th after the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office failed to file charges against before a 48 hour deadline passed. The County Attorney’s Office wanted to do some more investigating and collecting evidence before charging Hunter in attempts to avoid double jeopardy should the court find insufficient evidence.
Glendale Police Sergeant Brent Coombs told reporters that Hunter remained their “No.1 focus”. Jerice Hunter remains uncooperative with police and is refusing to take a lie detector exam.
In light of new information, police believe five-year-old Jhessye Shockley was murdered and her body dumped in a trash bin in Tempe, quite possibly weeks before her mother reported her missing. Glendale police did not say what evidence led them to believe this, however, police Sgt Brent Coombs did say detectives are deciding whether to search a landfill where they believe the child’s body could have ended up. Jhessye’s remains may have been transported to Butterfield Station Landfill after being dumped. He said they’re evaluating the likelihood of finding her. It should be noted that searching a landfill is time consuming and costly. Over 10 years ago law enforcement’s search for a Tempe homemaker led them to the same landfill they are considering searching for Jhessye. After 59 days of combing through 7,500 tons of garbage at the rate of seven to eight truckloads per hour and a cost at $350,000.00, the search ended with no evidence being found. Without a firm date/time period in which the remains were disposed of it is quite difficult to know where to begin the search in a landfill.
There is a reward of $25,000.00 for any information leading to the location of Jhessye Shockley or information leading to the resolution of her case.
Glendale police have set a date to launch the landfill search for the body of Jhessye Shockley for Monday, February 6, 2012. While the planning and preparation continues, the Glendale Police Department has identified the people who will be involved and the equipment they will use. Final preparations for the massive search include scheduling, training and medical screenings for the personnel who will be doing the heavy lifting. According to Sgt. Brent Coombs of the Glendale Police Department, there will be more than 40 people on site every day of the search, which could go on for several weeks. Sworn officers, detectives, FBI agents and members of the Child Abduction Response Team (CART) will be involved.
Coombs said analysis and research have led investigators to narrow down the search area to a specific area that’s about 1800 feet by 200 feet. This area is more than 20 feet deep and contains about 6,000 tons of trash. The area has been secured and the heavy equipment necessary for the search will be arriving within the next several days.
While police believe they will find Jhessye’s body in the landfill, they have not released any information about what led them there. They also have still not said exactly when they believe the little girl was killed. If investigators are correct in their time line, it’s possible that Jhessye has been in the landfill, which is about an hour southwest of Phoenix, for more than four months.
In the middle of all of this, a beautiful little girl, Jhessye Shockley, remains missing. This little girl not only needs to be found, but deserves to be found. Should the worst case scenario prove to be true, Jhessye still deserves to be put to rest and have justice sought after for the crimes committed against her.
The search of Butterfield Station Landfill for Jhessye’s body has begun. Authorities are remaining tight lipped about any evidence that may or may not have been found. The search for Jhessye will continue for undetermined amount of time.
Investigators say they have reached the area they call the “high probability zone” in the search of the Butterfield Station Landfill for evidence of Jhessye Shockley. Newspapers and other paperwork from the day Jhessye was reported missing have been found in the search area. Investigators say they are not just looking for the little girl’s remains, but also any container which may be used to hide a body, including garbage bags and suitcases. The latest technology along with the digging and raking by hand are being used in the search. Officials are doing absolutely everything possible to try and find Jhessye. The search will be continued for an undetermined amount time, with officials stating they will not stop searching until Jhessye is found.
Two weeks have now passed since the search of the Butterfield Station Landfill began looking for signs of little Jhessye Shockley. Authorities have stated that searchers are becoming more efficient as the days pass going through an average of 100 tons of trash a day. While there has been no evidence uncovered to date, authorities have stated they are confident that Jhessye’s body is in the landfill. The search will continue until the area containing more than 6,000 tons of trash has been searched entirely or the remains of the beautiful little girl are found.
The search of the Butterfield Station Landfill lasted for 96 days, with thousands of tons of garbage being sifted through, yet in the end, authorities were unable to recover the remains of Jhessye Shockley.
In September of 2012, Hunter was charged murder and child abuse in Jhessye’s case. Authorities believe Hunter killed her daughter Jhessye, days or even weeks before her reported disappearance. Investigators uncovered blood during a search oh Hunter’s apartment on a cotton ball, rag, pillow case, wall, and on the outside patio. Jerice Hunter’s lawyer filed a motion in a Phoenix court a few weeks ago to withdraw from the case because he hasn’t been paid. It is expected that Hunter will be appointed a new lawyer soon.
Hunter is awaiting trial. We will continue to follow this case and post updates as they become available.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Jhessye Shockley, please immediately contact the Glendale Police Department at:
The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children at: