Jhessye Shockley, a 5-year-old girl from Glendale, Arizona, went missing on Oct. 11, 2011, and police have been searching for her ever since.
Her mother, Jerice Hunter, was arrested and charged in the murder of her daughter in 2012. After several delays, her trial began in March 2015.
While police suspect Hunter disposed of Shockley’s body in a trash can, it has never been found and it is still unknown how the girl disappeared.
Here is a timeline of all of the events in this tragic story.
Oct. 11, 2011 — Jhessye Shockley went missing
A massive effort is launched the morning after Shockley’s disappearance, including an Amber Alert, to help police find the 5-year-old girl. Initially, she was thought to have wandered away from her apartment near Glendale and 45th avenues after Hunter called police around 5 p.m. that night. Hunter claimed to have left Shockley at home with her older siblings while she ran errands.
Oct. 14, 2011 — Jerice Hunter found to have a criminal history
Hunter was found to have a history of child abuse in California, for which she was sentenced to time in prison. Hunter was pregnant with Shockley shortly before serving three years in prison. Child Protective Services took Hunter’s three other children into custody the day after Shockley went missing.
Oct. 18, 2011 — Police worked for new leads
Police said there has been no evidence of an accident or kidnapping. All who have been in contact with Shockley are considered to be “persons of interest,” determining those closest to her may have information pertaining to her disappearance.
Oct. 19, 2011 — Police offered reward for information
Authorities announce a $11,000 reward for information leading to Shockley. They also said they had no leads in the case.
Oct. 20, 2011 — Shockley’s grandmother pleaded for attention
As Shockley’s grandmother, Shirley Johnson, rankled for more media and police attention, Mahogany Hightower, a cousin of Shockley’s, came forward to say they believed she was being abused in her mother’s home.
Oct. 24, 2011 — Family, police at odds over search efforts
Shockley’s family argued that police have not done their best to find the girl by focusing too heavily on Hunter’s criminal history. The family also protested near the state capitol in purple bows, Shockley’s favorite color.
Nov. 1, 2011 — Homicide detective took over case
In addition to missing-person and child-crimes detectives, a homicide detective was added to Shockley’s case. That same day, Hunter gave birth to another child. The child was then taken into CPS custody.
Nov. 18, 2011 — Shockley’s grandmother said police efforts were ‘inadequate’
Johnson claimed Glendale Police stopped looking for her granddaughter just two days after she went missing.
Nov. 21, 2011 — Hunter arrested for child abuse
After authorities stated they do not expect to find Shockley alive, Hunter was arrested on charges of child abuse. Sgt. Brent Coombs, a Glendale police spokesman, said new information led police to search Hunter’s house for the second time since Shockley’s disappearance. Hunter’s father publicly maintained that she had done nothing wrong and was being treated unfairly.
Nov. 22, 2011 — Hunter made court appearance
While Hunter pleaded not guilty in her court appearance, investigators continued to investigate Shockley’s disappearance as a murder case. After Hunter’s appearance, documents stating Hunter had ordered her children to lie about the treatment of their younger sister were released. Shockley’s siblings stated she was often found with black eyes and bruises and was kept in their mother’s closet.
Nov. 28, 2011 — Hunter was released from jail
Just a week after Hunter was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, police let her walk free. Glendale police continued their investigation as a homicide before making a formal charging decision. In order to avoid double jeopardy, police were obliged to grant her release to possibly charge her with felony murder.
Nov. 30, 2011 — Family hired attorney for Hunter
Scottsdale criminal defense attorney Scott Maasen was hired by Hunter’s friends and family members to defend her.
Dec. 1, 2011 — Police released area of landfill
Glendale Police released an area of landfill held in relation to the disappearance of Shockley. They did not say why.
Dec. 5, 2011 — Documents revealed search warrant was for murder
Documents revealed when police searched Hunter’s home, they were looking for evidence of a murder. The search warrant said police were looking for things that Hunter could have used to hurt her daughter.
Dec. 14, 2011 — Prosecutor said Shockley not forgotten
A prosecutor assured the public that a missing Glendale girl is not being forgotten and that authorities are pressing their investigation.
Dec. 21, 2011 — Glendale police inferred body of missing 5-year-old Shockley was placed in trash
The Glendale Police Department concluded Shockley’s body was placed in a trash receptacle in Tempe prior to her being reported missing on Oct. 11, 2011. They started referring to the investigation as “an active homicide investigation.”
Jan. 10, 2012 — Glendale police announced they would search another landfill for Shockley’s body
The search is expected to take several weeks. Police still believe Hunter is their primary suspect and that she dumped her daughter’s body before calling police to report her missing.
Feb. 6, 2012 — Police began search of Arizona landfill for Shockley’s body
Police have started methodically searching a landfill south of Phoenix for the body of a 5-year-old Arizona girl whom has been missing for more than four months and who authorities now believe is dead.
June 1, 2012 — Police said landfill search was 75 percent complete
The landfill search for Shockley’s body was 75 percent complete and was expected to be completed by the end of June. Despite finding no evidence of the little girl, police were still hopeful that they would recover her body.
June 27, 2012 — Police called off landfill search
The search for a missing Glendale girl at the Butterfield Station Landfill south of Phoenix has come to an end. After months of searching, Glendale police said they were unable to find evidence directly connected to the death of Shockley. Police are still expected to pursue a case against Hunter.
Sept. 6, 2012 — Hunter arrested on murder and child abuse charges
Hunter was arrested on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse of her 5-year-old daughter. The formal arrest for murder comes nearly a year after Shockley’s disappearance, although her body has never been found.
Sept. 17, 2012 — Hunter plead not guilty to murder and child abuse charges
Hunter plead not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and child abuse in the disappearance of her 5-year-old daughter after an 11-month-long investigation.
Sept. 17, 2012 — Witness stated Hunter disposed of suitcase
In the days prior to Shockley’s disappearance, Hunter disposed of a “large, heavy and foul-smelling suitcase,” according to a witness statement. An unidentified woman claimed she gave Hunter a ride to a Tempe apartment complex several days before her daughter went missing.
March 6, 2013 — Family members file notice of claim in Shockley’s death
Attorney Dwane Cates filed a $3 million notice of claim against the state of Arizona, Child Protective Services and Glendale Police Department on allegations of “gross” negligence in the death of 5-year-old Shockley. The claim, the first step toward a lawsuit, was filed on behalf of three of Shockley’s relatives. That same day, Johnson attended a hearing where she fought for continued custody of Hunter’s three other children.
Sept. 23, 2013 — Trial scheduled in Shockley murder
The trial in the first-degree murder of Shockley was originally scheduled for August 2014.
Dec. 6, 2014 — Trial rescheduled for early 2015
After facing two delays, Hunter was set to go on trial for the first-degree murder of Shockley on March 2, 2015.
March 2, 2015 — Jury selection begins in Shockley trial
About 120 potential jurors filed into Judge Rosa Mroz’s courtroom for the start of what is expected to be a lengthy trial. Jury selection is expected to take two weeks while the trial is expected to last into May.