Police working for new leads in missing Ariz. girl

AP News
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Posted: Oct 19, 2011 12:00 AM
Police working for new leads in missing Ariz. girl

Police searching for a 5-year-old girl missing for a week fanned out again Tuesday in her suburban Phoenix neighborhood in hopes of turning up new leads.

Authorities have no suspects or evidence in the disappearance of Jahessye (JES'-ee) Shockley, who was last seen Oct. 11 by her three older siblings at the family's Glendale apartment while their mother was running an errand.

Police believe Jahessye left the home through the front door but don't know what happened next.

Authorities say if the girl had some type of accident, they would have found a sign of her by now. They say the fact that they haven't points to a possible kidnapping.

Glendale police Cmdr. Rick St. John, who is overseeing the investigation, said at a news conference Tuesday that everyone who knew Jahessye or interacted with her is a "person of interest" in her disappearance. He asked the public to be hyper-aware of their surroundings in hopes of spotting her.

"I'd like to make a plea here today," St. John said. "There is someone in our community who knows the whereabouts of Jahessye. ... Think of this 5-year-old girl. Think of the impact this case has on her family and the community as a whole."

St. John noted that in cases of kidnappings, the victim's appearance often is changed. That can include giving them haircuts or making them wear eyeglasses.

"We need people to be aware of those possibilities," he said.

He said the department has received dozens of tips in the case, but none have led to any answers. However, all it takes is one, St. John noted.

"It really is that simple," he said. "There's that piece of information that will lead us to where Jahessye is and bring her back to a safe environment."

Meanwhile, police canvassed Jahessye's low-income neighborhood Tuesday in hopes of turning up new tips or finding people they haven't yet interviewed who may have seen or know something.

Volunteers handed out fliers, while officers stopped motorists to ask if they remembered seeing anything unusual the day Jahessye disappeared.

Around the neighborhood, missing signs in Spanish and English were posted on telephone poles and vehicle windshields.

It was the second time police canvassed the Glendale neighborhood. More than 100 officers and volunteers last week combed a 3-mile radius around Jahessye's home, which shares a block with other apartment buildings. They turned up no hard evidence.

Police also have secured an area of a nearby landfill where the garbage from Jahessye's neighborhood would have gone the day of and day after her disappearance. But they had no immediate plans to search it.

"That's more of a `just in case,'" St. John said. "We don't want to lose evidence."

Also Tuesday, police released the 911 call that came from Jahessye's mother shortly after she went missing.

"I can't find my daughter," a distraught Jerice Hunter tells the operator. "She can't be far. I wasn't gone that long."

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