The mother of missing 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley was arrested Monday on allegations of child abuse "directly related" to the girl. Police now consider her a suspect in Jhessye's disappearance.
Digital Journal first reported the news of Jhessye Shockley's disappearance earlier this month, when the child had been missing for 3 weeks. She has been missing since Oct. 11.
The girl's mother, Jerice Hunter, claims that she left Jhessye under the care of older siblings when she left her home in order to run errands. She states that when she returned, Jhessye was gone.
Glendale Police Sgt. Brent Coombs told reporters in a crowded press conference earlier on Monday that Hunter "is our No. 1 focus". He would not elaborate any further on the specifics of the child abuse allegations, but did state that authorities believe Jhessye will not be found alive.
Hunter has been uncooperative with police and has refused a lie-detector test.
The New York Times reports that forensic experts were combing the apartment throughout the day, and that a search of a nearby landfill may soon be conducted.
Hunter was arrested and booked into the Maricopa County jail and was set to appear in court late Monday night.
She previously served time in prison on child abuse charges back in 2005.
Digital Journal will continue to update this story as more details become available.