By Danny L. White, Special to the NNPA from the Arizona Informant –
The search and belief that five year old Jhessye Shockley would be found alive has turned to an “active homicide investigation” in which law enforcement believe the little girl that loved to dress up and take photographs remains were disposed of in a landfill weeks before being reported missing.
Jhessye’s mother, Jerice Hunter continues to be the primary focus of the probe and investigation.
Hunter was arrested and later released weeks ago as prosecutors said they did not want to create a situation of double jeopardy if they pursed a felony murder case against Hunter in the future.
Police believe that little Jhessye’s remains were placed in a Tempe dumpster and possibly could have been transported to Mobile , AZ the Butterfield Station Landfill as long ago as the end of September?
Tracy Breeden speaking on behalf of law enforcement said, “We want to be successful, to do that we need to have more than a needle in a haystack.
“The information that has led to consider a landfill search emerged after Hunter’s November arrest on suspicion of felony child abuse,” said Breeden.
Law enforcement would not elaborate on the source of the information/leads but did say some of the information did come through Silent Witness and was no doubt considered conjunction with the information that came from Hunter’s own children in detailing how Jhessye was treated by her mother – left in a closet without regular food or water from early to mid-September.
Jhessye was also reported missing from school from early September according to school officials Hunter called and reported the child had pinkeye and other health issues.
In lieu of this information it begs the question – When did little Jhessye really go missing?
“As difficult as it is we are still holding out hope that Jhessye will be returned alive,” said Bishop Chris Effort who along with his wife (Tia) form a ministerial team that has galvanized the community with candle light walks, community block watch teams and memorials at the corner of 45th Ave and Glendale in close proximity to Hunters residence where Jhessye was reported to have gone missing from.
Absence from her apartment from the time of her release from jail, Hunter along with her mother Shirley Johnson have been seen in the past several days visiting the ever-growing memorial to little Jhessye that stretches between traffic signals at 45th and Glendale Ave.
Scottsdale Attorney Scott Maaseen has signed on to represent Hunter and has proclaimed her innocence. Maaseen has hired a private investigator and report law enforcement has wasted valuable time focusing on Hunter and not searching for relevant clues to find Jhessye.
“This case mirrors very closely that lady in Florida (Casey Anthony) who killed or knew her baby had died months ago and acted like she knew nothing about that child’s disappearance,” said one neighbor from the immediate area where Jhessye went missing from.
“We (residences in this area) walked and searched for that baby for weeks. We held rallies right out there on that corner ( 45th Ave and Glendale ) and we prayed and we prayed. If this woman (Hunter) has something to do with that baby missing or worse, God is going to punish her far worse than anything man or the police can do,” shared a neighbor who is beginning to think twice about Hunter’s involvement in the matter.
Writers note: Searching a landfill is time consuming and costly. Over 10 years ago law enforcements search for a Tempe homemaker led them to the same landfill they are considering searching for Jhessye. After 59 days of combing through 7,500 tons of garbage at the rate of seven to eight truckloads per hour and a cost at $350,000 dollars, the search ended with no sign of the person being searched for.
Without a firm date/time period in which the remains were disposed of it is quite difficult to know where to begin the search in a landfill.
Individuals with information in this case are encouraged to contact Silent Witness at (480) witness. You can remain anonymous.