Search volunteers reflect on time looking for Jhessye Shockley

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by Fields Moseley

Bio | Email | Follow: @fieldsmoseley

azfamily.com

Posted on November 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 23 at 10:41 AM

PHOENIX -- Jhessye Shockley's disappearance rattled many people in the community and some of them felt compelled to act.  They heard the girl's mother beg for help and dropped their lives to spend time looking or handing out fliers.  In light of this week's arrest of Jerice Hunter, we tracked down two volunteers who say they feel betrayed, but would still do it all over again.

“Help us find baby Jhessye,” one volunteer yelled at passing motorists the week of Oct. 11.

As word spread of a missing five year old girl, people started to volunteer their time even as it became clear, no one knew where to look.

“As a parent, I was frantic,” said Andrew Smiley.   “I was like we got to find this girl and do whatever we can.”

Andrew Smiley spent about 10 days near the corner of 45th and Glendale.  Then this week, he learned Jhessye's mother, Jerice Hunter, is suspected in the girl’s disappearance.

“My heart sunk last night,” he said.

Then there was Latoya Hubbard, another parent who felt compelled to help.

“A predator is amongst us,” Hubbard said into our camera early in the investigation.

“A predator, what was I saying?” she said with a degree sarcasm Tuesday.  “A predator is amongst us. Someone has taken this child, someone kidnapped her.  I believed it.”

But now Latoya and Andrew feel duped.

“She led us all to believe, someone took her,” Hubbard said of Hunter.

And the Monday arrest of Hunter, seemed to confirm lingering suspicions.

“It struck me as odd that the mother was in the house for such a long time,” Smiley observed during his time outside the apartment complex.

“Look at her actions, look at her attitude, look at her behavior, look at her demeanor, look at her character,” said Hubbard reflecting back.
 
By the time Jhessye had been gone three weeks, both Smiley and Hubbard had returned to their own families.  But neither has regrets about stepping up when their community need them.

“It was all worth it to raise awareness for this little girl,” said Smiley.

“Justice has to be served,” said Hubbard.  “I'm hoping for justice.”
 

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