Jhessye Shockley's mother released from jail

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- According to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, the mother of Jhessye Shockley was released from their custody Monday morning shortly after 10:30am.

Sgt. Brent Coombs of the Glendale Police Department said at this point in time, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has opted not to file a charge a child abuse against Jerice Hunter.

"Really that allows the Glendale Police Department to examine new leads that have come in since serving the search warrant and since Jerice's arrest, but also time for the analysis to happen on forensic evidence," Coombs said.

In a stunning twist in the case of Jhessye Shockley, the 5-year-old Glendale girl who has been missing since early October, her mother, Hunter, was arrested and booked into Maricopa County Jail last Monday.

Police said at the time that the charges of child abuse they were pursuing were "directly related" to Jhessye's disappearance. Detectives also said they no longer believe Jhessye is alive although her body has not yet been found.

"We are awaiting the results of additional investigation by Glendale Police before making a charging decision," said Jerry Cobb, a public information officer for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, in an e-mail to 3TV.

Coombs says the County Attorney and Glendale Police are in "lockstep" when it comes to decisions about Hunter's case.

He went on to say that the evidence collected will under go a "complete forensic analysis," and that his department will remain in close communication with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

"We are not able to provide any specific details on the new information other than to say the focus and direction of the investigation into the disappearance of Jhessye Shockley has not changed," Coombs said.

At this point, Hunter's family has not commented on her release from jail.

Jhessye was last seen at her Glendale home on Oct. 11. Hunter said she went out to run an errand, leaving the 5-year-old with her three older siblings. Hunter said when she returned, Jhessye was gone.

The little girl's family, especially her grandmother and her aunt, was extremely vocal from the outset, even demanding national media coverage.

Until last Monday, police repeatedly said Hunter, who has served time in California for child abuse, was not a suspect in Jhessye's disappearance.

Court documents released the day after Hunter's arrest detail a litany of accusations, including allegations by Jhessye's teenage sister that Hunter locked the little girl in a closet. The teen also said Hunter told her and her siblings to lie to the police about Jhessye being missing.