Jhessye Shockley: Family, friends to rally at Capitol Monday

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's been nearly two weeks since a 5-year-old girl vanished from a Glendale neighbor and there's still no sign of her.

On Monday, family and friends of Jhessye Shockley will rally at the Capitol in an effort to keep her story on people's minds and keep the search for the little girl going.

In recent days, Jhessye's family has been pushing for national media attention, working to get their story out. Now it's happening.

Jhessye's photo first appeared on cable's Headline News Friday morning. On Saturday morning, the little girl's grandmother, Shirley Johnson, and aunt, Tammy Hunter, were on CNN.

"You want to get it as far as you can, because people can hop on the road and just drive," Hunter said.

During that CNN interview, Johnson and Hunter answered questions about Jhessye's mom, who served time for child abuse in a California prison in 2006. She was released just last year.

"Are you sure in your heart of hearts that Jhessye's mother has nothing to do with her disappearance?" the anchor asked.

"I feel comfortable saying that," Johnson answered. "I just don't think she' capable of that, to do anything to her child. I just can't see that."

Early on, the search for Jhessye focused on the Glendale neighborhood where she was last seen, expanding in the nearby areas in the days after she went missing. Now, nearly two weeks later, the 5-year-old could be anywhere.

Nearly 100 people attended a candlelight vigil for Jhessye Saturday night.

"My baby's coming home," said Jhessye's mom, Jeurice Hunter, as she pleaded for her daughter's safe return.

Also in the crowd was Jhessye's cousin Nikita Ware.

"Shes my little cousin," Ware said. "For the first years of her life she was with us all the time. Reality is starting to sink in. ... She was so happy, so smart, she taught my son his ABCs and how to count."

Ware said she helped raise Jhessye while her mother served time.

"We never thought anything would have gone wrong if she went back with her mom," Ware said.

Jeurice Hunter lead the vigil through the family's neighborhood at 45th and Glendale avenues Saturday night. On Monday, she and others plan to march at the Capitol.

Wherever Jhessye is, her community vows to never give up looking for her.

"I want my little cousin to come back home," Ware said.

At this point, police do not have any suspects in Jhessye's disappearance. There is an $16,000 reward for information leading to Jhessye.

Investigators have no concrete evidence indicating that Jhessye was kidnapped, but they are following up on every lead they get.

Jhessye is black, approximately 3 feet 5 inches tall, 55 pounds with shoulder length black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen at her family's apartment near Glendale and 45th avenues.

Anyone with information is asked to call 623-930-HELP (4357).