Five-year-old Jahessye's mother, Jerice Yaton Hunter, reported her daughter missing from their Glendale, Arizona home on October 11, 2011.
She stated that Jaheysse was home with her three older siblings (aged 6, 9 and 13) when she wandered away at approximately 5:00 p.m. and left out the front door of the family's apartment near Glendale and 43rd Avenues.
Jerice had gone to cash a check and when she came home, the front door was open, Jahessye was gone and her siblings didn't know what had happened to her. She searched around the apartment complex and then called the police.
Around that same time Jahessye vanished, a 25 to 35-year-old African-American female was seen putting a young girl into a black four-door 1998 to 2000 Chevrolet Malibu at Glendale and 45th Avenue. The child (who didn't resist) physically resembled Jahessye and authorities said they were looking to identify and interview the woman. She had black hair pulled back into a bun and weighed about 120 pounds. An extensive search of the area turned up no sign of Jahessye; she has never been heard from again.
Jerice had a history of child abuse in Vallejo, California, where she lived prior to moving to Arizona. In October of 2005, she was charged with five felonies: four counts of corporal injury to a child and one count of torture. She allegedly whipped her 3-year-old and 7-year-old children with an extension cord and a belt. Jerice also punched her 14-year-old son during an argument and he stated that she frequently beat him with sticks.
At the time the abuse charges were brought against her, Jerice was married to George Edward Shockley, the convicted sex offender who would become Jahessye's father. He participated in some of the beatings and faced charges for child abuse as well as for failure to register as a sex offender. He is still in prison. All of Hunter's children stated the abuse had been going on for years, and the judge presiding over the case said she "never ever should have had children."
In 2006, Jerice pleaded no contest to the four counts of corporal injury to a child, and the torture charge was dropped as a result of the plea agreement. She was sentenced to 8 years in prison, served four years and was paroled in 2010.
Jahessye and her siblings were raised by her mother's relatives during Jerice's incarceration and Jerice got them back after her release. Many of her family members have been supportive of her, stating she loved her children and had become a much better parent since her release from prison.
In the aftermath of Jahessye's disappearance, her older siblings were taken into protective custody by Child Protective Services (CPS) and placed in foster care. Jerice was eight months pregnant at the time and CPS took custody of her infant after it was born later that month. She maintained her innocence in her daughter's disappearance and said she thought that Jahessye had been abducted by a stranger, but she refused to cooperate with the investigation or take a lie detector test.
On November 21, 2011 (6 weeks after Jahessye went missing), Jerice was arrested for felony child abuse. Police said Jahessye was the victim and they believed that she had been murdered.
Jahessye's 13-year-old sister allegedly told investigators that Jerice kept Jahessye in a closet starting several weeks prior to her reported disappearance and hadn't fed her. Jahessye's sister would sneak her food and water & noticed that she had cuts, bruises and black eyes. The other children in the family also said they'd seen the bruises.
The last day Jahessye attended kindergarten was September 22, 2011, three weeks before her disappearance. After that, Jerice kept her home, claiming that she had pinkeye and ringworm, but neither of these claims have been supported by a doctor.
Jahessye's siblings said that the closet started to smell "like dead people" and Jerice burned incense and spent a whole day cleaning the apartment a few days before she reported her daughter missing. Authorities confirmed that Jerice had purchased bleach on October 9, 2011 (two days before Jahessye's disappearance was reported).
Jahessye's siblings' statements were what lead to Jerice's arrest. She was released without charge after a week, however police said they did not want to create a double-jeopardy situation in case homicide charges were filed against her later on.
In December of 2011, authorities began searching the Butterfield Station Landfill for Jahessye's remains saying that they had "substantive" evidence that her body was placed in a trash bin in Tempe, Arizona and taken from there to the landfill. The searches lasted for months, but turned up no evidence.
In September of 2012, Jerice was charged with murder and child abuse in Jahessye's case. Although she maintains her innocence, authorities believe that Jahessye was not abducted and was in fact killed some days or weeks before her reported disappearance. Jerice is awaiting trial.
In March of 2013, Jahessye's extended family filed a $10 million lawsuit against the state of Arizona, the Glendale Police Department and CPS for Jahessye's wrongful death. They allege that the state and CPS was grossly negligent when they returned Jahessye to her mother's custody and that CPS and the police ignored their complaints that Jerice had been abusing Jahessye prior to her disappearance.
Jahessye's body has not been found and her case is classified as an Endangered Missing person. Her name is pronounced "Jess-ee" and she was last seen wearing a plain white t-shirt, blue denim shorts, and pink flip-flop sandals.