Jhessye Shockley's mother arrested for 1st degree murder, child abuse

Posted: Updated:
Jerice Hunter By Andrew Michalscheck Jerice Hunter By Andrew Michalscheck
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The mother of missing Valley girl Jhessye Shockley was arrested Thursday morning.

Jerice Hunter was apprehended in Mesa following a grand jury indictment for first-degree murder and child abuse.

Authorities would not discuss specifics about the case, but said their collection of evidence over the course of their investigation resulted in Hunter's arrest.

"I commend our law enforcement partners for their refusal to give up on this case. Thanks to their diligence and hard work, we now have an opportunity to seek justice for Jhessye and uncover the truth behind her disappearance," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Shockley was last seen in October 2011. Hunter was arrested in November, but was released a few days later after authorities decided not to file a child abuse charge.

Detectives would later receive a tip that the 5-year-old had been murdered and dumped in the trash.

Investigators learned that the trash wound up in the Butterfield Landfill, which is just south of the Valley.

Authorities spent four months searching for Jhessye’s body at the Butterfield Landfill, but eventually called of their search in late June.

While investigators have yet to locate Jhessye's body, Glendale Chief of Police Debora Black believes justice will still be served in the case.

"For the past 11 months, the men and women of the Glendale Police Department and our partners from local, state and federal law enforcement worked tirelessly to accomplish two goals: to find Jhessye and to hold the person responsible for her disappearance accountable. We are confident with the indictment and arrest today, we will achieve our second goal of securing justice for Jhessye," stated Black.

A judge set a $500,000 secured appearance bond for Hunter, who will be arraigned on Sept. 13. An arraignment is a criminal proceeding in which the defendant appears in court to hear a formal reading of the charges against him or her and enter a plea.