PHOENIX, Ariz.--Five-year-old Jhessye Shockley disappeared from her Glendale home nearly two weeks ago, and police still have no solid leads.
Now the girl's mother, Jerice Hunter, is lashing out at the media for focusing too much on her criminal background.
Hunter and a group of other relatives and friends gathered Monday at the state Capitol to rally to ask lawmakers to get involved in the search for Jhessye and to raise awareness about the search.
"Please help me search for my daughter," a tearful Hunter pleaded. "She deserves to be home with her family, please, she's 5 years old and she's scared. I know she's scared."
Hunter, who is due to give birth to another child any day, said she is disappointed with the Glendale Police Department's investigation and said they are keeping her "in the dark."
But when asked by a member of another news organization whether she hurt Jhessye, Hunter turned her anger on reporters.
"It's very unfair for you to ask me that," she said. "Do I look like I would hurt my daughter? Do I look like I would hurt my daughter?"
She also accused the media of spreading lies about her background and endangering her family's safety.
"All the garbage you spewed out there about her mother, it's so, so disheartening," Hunter said.
Hunter, who is not a suspect in Jhessye's disappearance, served time in a California prison for the abuse of three of her older children, according to court records.
Jhessye's father, George Edward Shockley, a registered sex offender, remains in prison. On Monday Hunter said she only learned he was sex offender after she was arrested back in 2005.
She told reporters she fled California for Phoenix to escape domestic violence by Shockley. Although he remains incarcerated, she said she is worried that the current media attention has endangered her.
Glendale police detectives continue to follow up on any and all tips. Last week an $11,000 reward was offered by the department and the Silent Witness program.
On Monday Sgt. Brent Coombs said the reward has brought in only a half dozen tips.
Also on Monday, Gov. Jan Brewer was asked about how she thinks the search for Jhessye is going.
"I have all the confidence in the Glendale Police Department having lived, and still living there, of them doing the very best job they can possibly do," Brewer said. "I know eventually that will be solved. My heart goes out to the family."
Jhessye's family has asked for Brewer to get involved in efforts to find the girl.