By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press
PHOENIX — Police looking for a 5-year-old Arizona girl who has been missing six days said Monday they now believe she was most likely kidnapped, because otherwise they would have found her.
Jahessye (JES’-ee) Shockley was last seen by her three older siblings last Tuesday at her Glendale home while their mother was running an errand. Police believe she left their apartment through the front door but don’t know anything about what happened next.
“If it was just her walking away, we would have found her by now,” Coombs told The Associated Press. “Obviously she’s not with us. Somebody knows something or somebody has interacted with her and put her in a place, and we just haven’t found her yet.”
Police have no suspects, evidence or promising leads.
Coombs said the girl’s mother is not a suspect despite comments she made to reporters.
“They’re treating me like that – the interrogations and the way I’ve been spoken to,” Jerice Hunter, Jahessy’s mother, said Monday in an interview with the AP. “(They’re) very disrespectful.”
Coombs said police have treated Hunter no differently than any other mother of a missing child. They conducted an initial interview as well as follow-ups because “people remember things, details, as time goes by.”
He said Hunter might believe she’s a suspect because “emotions are speaking.”
Meanwhile, Jahessye’s grandmother told The Arizona Republic on Sunday that Child Protective Services removed Hunter’s three other children from her home and put them in foster care.
CPS spokesman Steve Meissner said Monday he couldn’t immediately confirm or deny the agency’s involvement. He cited an Arizona law that allows for information about children to be released only if there has been a death or near death caused by child abuse, abandonment or neglect.
Coombs declined to comment about the children’s whereabouts, saying only that they’re in a safe place.
Hunter also declined to speak about her other children but pleaded for Jahessye’s safe return.
“I would really appreciate anybody who has any information, anyone who thinks they have seen anything, to contact the police,” she said. “If you have my child, please take her to a safe place, a public place where she can be located.”
She added: “The family will not be the same until the child is returned, and I will be relentless in my search.”