Glendale, Ariz., police announced new information Wednesday concerning the search for missing 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley. Police now say they believe the little girl was killed and her body dumped in Tempe, the Associated Press reported. Sgt. Brent Coombs said the police are deciding whether to search the landfill where they believe Jhessye’s body ended up. The landfill search is not a given in light of local memory of a notoriously unsuccessful landfill search in nearby Tempe.
Coombs told Fox that landfill searches require a scientific method of pinpointing a cell for the search. He called the process difficult and suggested his department is taking a long time because they want to be sure it’s feasible before they commit to doing it.
Here are more details on these latest developments in the Jhessye Shockley investigation:
* Police still consider Jhessye’s mother, Jerice Hunter, the No. 1 focus of the investigation,the Associated Press said.
* Police have been responding to tips received since Hunter’s release from jail in late November; tips through Silent Witness and investigative leads led police to believe the little girl’s body is in the landfill, Glendale police officer Tracey Breeden told the Phoenix New Times.
* The Huffington Post said police think Jhessye’s body was placed in a Tempe dumpster, then removed to a transfer station and ultimately brought to the Butterfield landfill.
* The police are analyzing the prospects for a successful landfill search, according to the Huffington Post. AZ Central pointed out that nearby Tempe’s police dept. spent $350,000 on an unsuccessful landfill search for a missing woman named Cookie Jacobson more than a decade ago, sifting through 75,000 tons of garbage over 59 days. Breeden likened the process of searching for a body in a landfill to finding a needle in a haystack.
* Hunter’s lawyer Scott Maasen says his client is innocent and questions why the landfill search isn’t already under way if police deem the tips reliable.
* Maasen told the Los Angeles Times he has hired a private investigator to find Jhessye.
* A homicide detective was first assigned to the Jhessye Shockley case Nov. 1, according to a timeline published by KTAR.
* The public learned police were treating the case as a suspected murder when search warrant documents were released Dec. 5, showing police were searching for items that could have been used to hurt the missing girl, according to the KTAR timeline.