Glendale, Ariz., police said Monday it believes Jhessye Shockley, the 5-year-old who has been missing since Oct. 13, is dead. It has arrested her mother, Jerice Hunter, on child abuse charges it says are "directly related" to the girl. Police have not specified what it contends Hunter did to Shockley, but Sgt. Brent Coombs told the Glendale Star, "I can tell you that with the information that has come to our investigators in the past few days, we do not believe that it will be likely that we will find Jhessye alive."
Hunter has denied any involvement in her daughter's disappearance and says the police are out to get her.
Jhessye is one of several recent missing children whose case raised a question of potential parental culpability in the past two months.
Sky Metalwala has been missing since Nov. 6. Within six days of the toddler's disappearance, police said there was a "real possibility" that he wouldn't be found alive. The police suspected Sky's mother Julia Biryukova from the start, saying her story of the little boy's disappearance from her car didn't add up.
Biryukova told police her car ran out of gas and she and her 4-year-old left Sky alone when they went to the gas station. But the car was not out of gas, Biryukova didn't buy gas, and she didn't return to the car immediately, instead walking around a wealthy neighborhood and calling a friend to pick her up.
Police acknowledged to KIRO TV they might have grounds for filing charges against Biryukova for her actions on Nov. 6 but to date have declined to do so.
In Kansas City, Mo., baby Lisa Irwin has been missing since the night of Oct. 3 to Oct. 4. Her parents, Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, reported someone broke into the home through a window and took Lisa and three cell phones. The police largely discredited the break-in but have not publicly voiced suspicion either parent is responsible for baby Lisa's disappearance. Bradley said on national television last month the police accused her of killing Lisa. She said she expected to be arrested any day. She has not been arrested despite her public announcement that she was drunk on 5 to 10 glasses of wine and may have blacked out Oct. 3 when she was the only adult at home with the children.
Tyler Dasher was only missing from his St. Louis home a matter of hours before police closed in on a suspect- the baby's mother, Shelby Dasher. Initially, the case looked much like the baby Lisa case, involving a 10-month-old baby allegedly put to bed at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 14 and vanished by morning with no signs of a break-in. But once the baby's body was found on the afternoon of Nov. 15, Shelby Dasher admitted beating him to death for crying, police said. She has been charged with second-degree murder.