Jerice Hunter, the mother of missing 5-year-old Jahessye Shockley of Phoenix, was arrested Monday on charges of child abuse “directly related to her daughter Jahessye,” according to the Glendale, Ariz., Police Department.
The police and FBI served a second search warrant on Hunter’s apartment complex, where Jahessye disappeared Oct. 11, and arrested Hunter there.
Glendale Police Department spokeswoman Tracey Breeden told ABCNews.com that according to information authorities have received but cannot disclose, “It’s highly unlikely we’ll find Jahessye alive.”
“We have not located Jahessye yet,” Breeden said. “We can’t speak about details, because this case is not closed. It’s still an ongoing investigation.”
Breeden said that all the police leads related to possible sightings of Jahesseye, or to information that another relative had taken her, had led to dead ends. Conversely, all “substantial” leads have led back to the apartment complex and to Hunter.
“We have offered the polygraph and to this date, [Hunter] has not cooperated with us in regards to polygraphs,” Breeden said.
Jahessye was last seen by her three older siblings at their apartment building nearly two weeks ago, while Hunter said she was out running an errand. She said she left her three older children doing chores in the backyard and locked Jahessye inside so she would be safe.
Hunter’s four other children, ages 6, 9, 13 and a newborn, are in state custody according to Breeden.
Family members had previously criticized the police investigation and were angry that the case had not garnered national media attention, especially when compared to the case of missing 1-year-old Lisa Irwin in Kansas City.
But Hunter’s criminal history of allegedly abusing her children had drawn public suspicion to what role, if any, she might have played in her daughter’s disappearance.
Hunter was charged with child abuse in 2006 (according to court documents, Hunter was “accused of torturing her 7-year-old daughter and of causing corporal injuries to three of her other children”) in California. Her children told police that Hunter would punch them and whip them, sometimes using extension cords.
Police said Hunter’s ex-husband George Shockley also participated in the alleged abuse. He is currently in prison following his conviction as a sex offender.
Convicted of four counts of child abuse in the 2006 case, Hunter was sentenced to eight years in a California prison and lost an appeal. Prosecutors dropped the torture charges in exchange for a plea of no contest, according to ABC’s Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV. However, it is unclear why Hunter was released early from prison.
The reward for information leading to Jahessye has been increased to $25,000.