Jerice Hunter Sentenced To Life In Prison

Annie Keller

Jerice Hunter, the mother of missing child Jhessye Jash'ua Shockley, was sentenced to life in prison today. She had been convicted of her daughter's murder in April of 2015.

Jhessye Shockley vanished from Glendale, Arizona on October 11, 2011. Jerice Hunter claimed that she had left her three older children alone with her and when she returned home Jhessye was gone and the door was open. Three days later, she was arrested on child abuse charges, and her other three children were taken into custody. Hunter had a previous record of child abuse and had her children removed from her custody for four years, from 2006 to 2010. She was imprisoned at the time and her relatives raised the children.

In November, released court documents revealed that her three other children had been told to lie about Jhessye's treatment by her mother, and that Jhessye was frequently locked in a closet. She was reportedly not fed while in the closet, although her siblings said they tried to sneak her food and water. The last time Jhessye was seen at school was on September 22, 2011. Her mother claimed to the school she was sick with pinkeye and ringworm. On the day before her disappearance, her siblings said the closet she was kept in smelled like human remains.

Prosecuters claimed that Hunter had beaten Jhessye to death, put her body in a suitcase, and put the suitcase in a dumpster in Tempe. The defense argued there was no proof that Jhessye was actually dead and noted that a search of landfills that covered 9,500 tons of trash had failed to yield her remains.

Lisa Vance, a cousin of Jerice Hunter who had raised Jhessye while her mother was in prison, said that Hunter killed her and thought that she could get away with it, and told her "I hope you burn in hell."

Jerice Hunter was also sentenced to 20-years in jail for child abuse. The sentence will run co-currently with the life sentence. She is not eligible for parole.

At the time of her disappearance Jhessye Jash'ua Shockley was five-years-old; her birthday is April 1, 2006. She is a black female with black hair and brown eyes who was three-feet, five-inches and weighed 55 pounds at the time of her disappearance. She was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, blue jean shorts, and pink sandals. The photo to the left is a picture of her at the time she vanished and the photo to the right is an age-progressed image to seven years. If you have any information as to her whereabouts please contact either the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or the Glendale Police Department at 1-623-930-3000.