Mother of missing Ariz. girl Jhessye Shockley arrested on child abuse charges

FILE - 5-year-old Jahessye Shockley is seen in this undated handout photo provided by the Glendale Police Department. Police scaled down the number of officers and volunteers searching for Shockley who has been missing for three days from about 100 to a couple dozen on Friday.
AP Photo/Glendale Police Department, File
Jhessye Shockley
File, AP Photo/Glendale Police Department

(CBS/AP) GLENDALE, Ariz. - Police said Monday they've arrested the mother of a missing 5-year-old Arizona girl on child abuse charges.

Jerice Hunter was arrested on child abuse charges "directly related to Jhessye," Glendale Police Sgt. Brent Coombs said. Jhessye Shockley has been missing since Oct. 11.

Coombs said Monday investigators don't believe they'll find the girl alive and that Hunter "is our No. 1 focus."

Hunter's apartment was surrounded by police tape Monday as investigators in white jumpsuits searched inside. Police declined to say what investigators were doing.

Police have previously said they believe Shockley wandered from her Glendale apartment while Hunter was running an errand. The girl's three older siblings were the last to see her.

Police have repeatedly said they had no evidence, suspects or promising leads.

Meanwhile, state Child Protective Services removed Hunter's four other children, including a newborn, from her home but have declined to give a reason. Police have also said they had no involvement in that decision.

Hunter has come under scrutiny during the investigation for an October 2005 arrest with her then-husband George Shockley in California on child abuse charges. She pleaded no contest to corporal punishment and served about four years in prison before she was released on parole in May 2010.

Hunter's oldest child, 14 at the time, told police that his mother routinely beat the children.

George Shockley is a convicted sex offender and is still in a California prison. Hunter has told reporters she didn't know about his past until they were arrested and now has nothing to do with him.

Complete coverage of Jhessye Shockley on Crimesider