Mother of missing Arizona girl arrested again
PHOENIX (AP) -- The mother of an Arizona girl missing for nearly a year was re-arrested in the case Thursday on suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse.
Police in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale announced at a news conference that Jerice Hunter was taken into custody without incident at her home in Mesa.
Hunter, 38, was indicted earlier in the day by a Maricopa County grand jury, even though the body of 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley hasn't been found.
Hunter's lawyer Scott Maasen said his client maintains her innocence.
"The indictment is not evidence," Massen said. "There is no body in this case. Cases without finding bodies are very difficult cases."
Investigators believe Shockley's body was disposed of days before Hunter reported her missing Oct. 11 and told police that she left Jhessye with the girl's older siblings while she ran an errand and returned to find her gone.
A 96-day search at a Phoenix-area landfill ended in late June without finding the girl's remains.
Police said at news conference Thursday that they believe the body is somewhere at the bottom of the landfill, but no additional searches are scheduled.
Hunter was arrested in November on suspicion of child abuse but later released from jail with the charge dropped. Prosecutors said then that they wanted to continue investigating and were worried that Hunter would not be eligible for a potential murder charge if she was convicted of abusing Shockley, a situation known as double jeopardy.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)