The mother of missing Arizona girl Jhessye Shockley, 5, on Monday was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, police said.
Glendale Police Sgt. Brent Coombs told the media that Jerice Hunter was placed under arrest for child abuse and that it was directly related to her daughter. She was booked at the Maricopa County jail and her first court appearance scheduled for Monday night.
Our investigators are still working diligently to locate Jhessye, Coombs said. This is a step down that path.
Jhessye Shockley made headlines last month when Hunter accused police and the media for shortchanging her 5-year-old, who has been missing since Oct. 11. Hunter said this was because of her color and criminal history.
According to The Associated Press, Hunter and her former husband, George Shockley, were arrested in California in 2005 on suspicion of child abuse, but Hunter pleaded no contest and served approximately four years in prison.
It was reported that Jhessye Shockley strolled out of her Glendale home unnoticed by her three older siblings who were supposed to be keeping a watch on her.
Hunter told police that she made the emergency call after not be able to find her daughter when she returned home from running an errand, according to CNN.
When Jhessye Shockley went missing, child welfare officials removed her siblings from the mother's care. After Hunter gave birth, officials also took the newborn.
But police said most of the tips they received regarding the girl's whereabouts have been futile -- excepting the information they have gotten about Hunter.
She is our No. 1 focus, Coombs told the Arizona Republic.
Authorities have also served a second search warrant on Hunter's apartment in suburban Phoenix.
Coombs has reportedly told reporters that don't expect to find the 5-year-old girl alive.