Jerice Hunter's booking photo when she was arrested on child abuse charges, six weeks after Jhessye was reported missing. The charges were later dropped.
MESA, AZ (CBS5) -
Jerice Hunter, the mother of 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley, has been arrested on first-degree murder and child abuse charges in her daughter's death, according to police.
Hunter's family told CBS 5 News that Hunter was arrested in Mesa on Thursday.
At a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Glendale police confirmed the arrest, saying Hunter was taken into custody without incident at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday at her Mesa home.
Soon after October 2011 when Hunter reported Jhessye missing, police announced that Hunter was the main focus in her daughter's disappearance.
Police and the FBI searched Hunter's home six weeks after Jhessye was reported missing looking for clues in the girl's disappearance.
Police believe Hunter kept Jhessye in the closet and tortured her. One of Jhessye's older sisters told police the closet where Jhessye was kept, "looked like a grave and smelled like dead people."
Hunter was arrested for child abuse the day the search warrant was served, but no charges were ever filed and she was released.
In June, investigators ended their landfill search for Jhessye that began on Feb. 6. Investigators said they were unable to recover any evidence from the Butterfield Landfill, where they believed Jhessye Shockley's body or evidence leading to her body might be found.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
SPECIAL SECTION: Missing Jhessye Shockley SLIDESHOWS: Search for Jhessye INTERVIEW: CBS News' Donna Rossi's exclusive interview with Jhessye's mother Jerice Hunter FLIER: Jhessye was reported missingMore>>
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