It’s been over two-weeks since 5-year-old Jahessye Shockley, pronounced Jessie, disappeared from her home in a Phoenix suburb. Jahessye’s mother, Jerice Hunter, says she left Jahessye in the house and left three older children in the backyard while she went out to run errands. She claims that upon her return to the home the front door was unlocked and Jahessye was missing.
Since Jahessye went missing, Hunter and other family members have claimed that the child’s disappearance has not garnered enough attention due to the child’s race. Speaking on the issue, investigators have said that the case is a high priority for the police department, and the girl’s skin color is not an issue for investigators.
The case has garnered attention though from Hunter’s record of child abuse which includes jail time in California. Lisa Vance, a cousin of Jahessye’s who helped raise the missing girl while Hunter was incarcerated, alleges that Hunter was abusing Jahessye. Vance said that she and other relatives unwillingly gave Jahessye back to Hunter last year when Hunter was released from jail. Vance claims that she saw signs of abuse including marks when she saw Jahessye at family functions.
Another relative of Jahessye’s, Mahogany Hightower, says that she recalled a conversation with Jahessye at a family barbeque back in April where the girl cried and told her that she did not want to go home. Hunter adamantly denies these claims, and when asked by a reporter if she had hurt Jahessye, Hunter replied, “It is very unfair to ask me that. Do I look like I hurt my daughter?”
The police have not indicated that they believe Hunter is a suspect in her daughter’s disappearance, nor have the commented on the alleged abuse. However, shortly after the investigation began, CPS removed Hunter’s three other children from the home for reasons which have not been made public. Cmdr. Rick St. John of the Glendale Police Department has said that everyone who has come into contact with Jahessye is a person of interest in the investigation. He also said that investigators have no concerns over the mother’s version of what occurred, but police were considering administering her a polygraph exam to corroborate her version of events surrounding Jahessye’s disappearance.
Jahessye is an African-American female. She is approximately 3-foot-5-inches tall, and weighs 55 pounds. She has long, black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a ponytail, a solid white T-shirt and jeans.