Police believe Jhessye Shockley was killed, dumped in Tempe trash bin

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Glendale police said Wednesday that they now believe 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley was killed and that her body was dumped in a trash receptacle in Tempe.

Shortly after the Nov. 21 arrest of the girl's mother, Jerice Hunter, on a child abuse charge, investigators received reliable information that led them to believe Jhessye's body was placed in the trash bin prior to the report of her disappearance on Oct. 11.

Trash from the location is taken to the Butterfield Landfill located south of the Valley.

Sgt. Brent Coombs said investigators have been working to determine the viability of searching the landfill, including analyzing the likelihood that they'll recover Jhessye's body. The decision will be finalized in the coming weeks.

Police said Hunter is still the focus of the investigation.

Hunter was released days after her arrest. Prosecutors said they wanted further investigation.

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.

Hunter has said she had nothing to do with her daughter's disappearance.

Police said Hunter has not submitted to a polygraph test.