Family of missing 5-year-old protests at Arizona capitol

Jahessye Shockley

(CBS/AP/KPHO) PHOENIX - The family of missing Arizona 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley took to the Arizona state capitol building on Monday to shine some attention on their grievance that police aren't working hard enough to find her.

The child's mother, Jerice Hunter, says authorities and the media are not giving top priority to the case because the child is black, and due to her own criminal history. During the demonstration, she, with about a dozen family members and friends, held up signs with her child's picture and pleaded for Governor Jan Brewer's attention.

Hunter has a record of child abuse from 2005, and USA today reports that in court documents from 2006, she was "accused of torturing her 7-year-old daughter and of causing corporal injuries to three of her other children." The day after the mother reported her daughter missing, Arizona State Child Protective Services took three of her children, though the agency declines to give a reason.

 Five-year-old Jhessye has been missing since October 11th. Hunter told the media at the capitol that the police department has been "totally uncooperative, keeping her in the dark, and kept her children away from her," reports CBS affiliate KPHO.

A spokesperson for the Glendale Police Department claims they are handling the case and the family just as they would any other missing person.

Police have no real evidence, suspects, or potential leads. They believe Jhessye wandered from her apartment while her mother was out doing errands. Law enforcement officials say it is a suspected kidnapping, since they found no trace of the girl after searching a 3-mile radius around her family home.

"I feel like they're covering me instead of my daughter because it's a juicy story for them and they want to get ratings," Hunter said. "Because I wouldn't speak to them initially, they decided they would draw me out by demonizing me."

Police Sgt. Brent Coombs is reported to have said that the department is aware of Hunter's criminal record, but that has no effect on their search. He states the case is a No. 1 priority and that investigators would not cease their work until Jahessye she is home.