Arrest coming in Jhessye Shockley case

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GLENDALE -- Police say they are getting closer to making an arrest in the disappearance and presumed death of Jhessye Shockley, the 5-year-old Glendale girl who vanished in October.

Earlier this month, the Glendale Police Department announced that it is putting together an operation to search Butterfield Station Landfill for the little girl's body. That search is still in the planning phase, but it is expected to get under way later this month.

Detectives also were awaiting the forensic results on evidence collected from the Shockley home during a search in November. That analysis reportedly is now complete.

Police said their investigation continues to focus on Jerice Hunter, Jhessye's mother. Officers already arrested Hunter once in connection with Jhessye's disappearance, but she was never charged.

Hunter's lawyer, Scott Maasen, does not believe detectives have what they need to arrest his client.

"Nothing has happened," he said. "That tends to believe that there isn't enough evidence to go forward with the case or whatever their theory of the case is. Otherwise they would make an arrest and things would kind of proceed. That hasn't happened."

Jhessye was last seen at her Glendale apartment on Oct. 11. Since then, she has been the center of a massive search. According to Sgt. Brent Coombs, detectives developed information that the girl had been killed and her body dumped in a Tempe trash bin.

While Jhessye was reported missing on Oct. 11, detectives now believe she was killed before that.

Investigators have not released any information about what led them to that conclusion, nor have they said when they believe Jhessye died.