Forensic psychiatrist weighs in on Shockley case - CBS 5 - KPHO

Nationally recognized forensic psychiatrist weighs in on Shockley case

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Dr. Steven Pitt Dr. Steven Pitt
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Scottsdale-based forensic psychiatrist Dr. Steven Pitt has consulted on some of the nation's most notable crimes.

For four years he was part of the Jon Benet Ramsey case, after the young beauty queen was found dead in her home.

He directed the Columbine Psychiatric Autopsy Project after the high school massacre, and he was a member of the Phoenix Police Department's "Baseline Killer" task force.

Pitt has no involvement in the case of Jhessye Shockley, the 5-year-old who went missing more than three weeks ago from her Glendale apartment. But he has been keeping tabs on the case.

"There are two things to deal with here. There's what happened to the child and then who is responsible for what happened to the child," Pitt said. "You look at physical evidence and you look at behavioral evidence and you look at where that leads you and that's ultimately going to help you solve the case."

The missing girl's mom, Jerice Hunter, has been elusive with the media. She has lashed out on occasion about the media's obsession with her criminal past for child abuse.

Hunter accused the media of caring more about attacking her reputation than helping find her little girl. Hunter has made a few comments during marches supporting the search for Jhessye, but she has not granted any media interviews.

"The fact that she's not granting any interviews to the media means nothing to me and I don't think anything should be made of it. On the other hand, if you were to tell me that she wasn't making herself available to the police, then a lot should be made of that," said Pitt.

Glendale police say Hunter continues to talk with them and is cooperating with the investigation. Investigators say they are working with the FBI to schedule a polygraph exam for Hunter, something that wasn't done sooner, in part, because Hunter was pregnant. She gave birth last week to her seventh child, a baby girl family members say she named Jerice.

Pitt said the polygraph is just another piece of information for investigators.

''No one to my knowledge has ever gone to prison on the basis of a polygraph alone," said Pitt.

Hunter has said in the past that she wanted to take a polygraph. According to Pitt, even if she chose not to take the exam, no inferences should be made about that decision.

"It's a slippery slope when you Monday-morning quarterback and arm-chair investigate these kinds of cases. Everyone and their brother thinks that after watching a couple of CSI episodes that they're profilers and that they can figure out this case," Pitt said. 

Pitt refers to profiling as an investigative tool at best, but used irresponsibly, it can be a dangerous entity.

"The reality is you have skilled investigators who are working on this case. You have skilled investigators who are following up on leads and you have skilled investigators who are doing things the way they need to do them," said Pitt.

The fact that there has been no trace of Jhessye for more than three weeks leads Pitt to believe the outcome will not be positive.

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