Friend stands by Jerice Hunter; believes Jhessye is alive - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Friend stands by Jerice Hunter; believes Jhessye is alive

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Jhessye Shockley Jhessye Shockley
© Jerice Hunter during an exclusive interview with CBS 5 News. © Jerice Hunter during an exclusive interview with CBS 5 News.
© CBS 5 © CBS 5
GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

One year ago, 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley was reported missing to Glendale police by her mother, Jerice Hunter.

Hunter is now facing charges of murder and child abuse in Jhessye's disappearance.

CBS 5 News talked to residents in the Glendale neighborhood who knew Jhessye and her mother, and one neighbor who stands by Hunter.

"I do go to visit her (Hunter)," Karen Heim told CBS 5 News. "A lot of people ask me why do I visit her or why I even talk with her and I'm not here to pass judgement on anyone. I don't know if she's innocent or guilty."

"No matter what, there's still some type of good in everybody and I'm just hoping and praying that she really didn't do it," Heim said.

Heim said she thinks about Jhessye every day and prays that she'll be brought home.

"My gut feeling still tells me that Jhessye is alive and I'm just going to hold out until I actually see a body or see evidence that she's actually gone," Heim said. "I'm still going to have faith that she's alive.

As for Jhessye's mother, Hunter, Heim said she plans to continue to visit her in jail.

"We're all guilty of something, maybe not to that extent but God is a forgiver and he forgives us all."

Hilda Garcia was one of Jhessye's neighbors and described Jhessye as a cute little girl that everybody loved.

"She used to play in front of my door with all the kids in the complex," Garcia said.

Garcia recalls one year ago when she first learned of Jhessye's disappearance on Oct. 11, 2011.

"I was giving fliers all downtown when we first found out about it," Garcia said. "We went all down Glendale town and put fliers everywhere."

Despite efforts by the community and the Glendale Police Department's extensive landfill search, Jhessye's body has never been found.

"I don't want to forget about her... we shouldn't forget about her," Garcia said.

The Glendale Police Department issued the following statement one the one-year anniversary of the case:

"The Glendale Police Department would like to acknowledge the significance of today as the one year anniversary of the investigation into the disappearance of Jhessye Shockley. On Oct. 11, 2011, officers were called to an apartment complex in south Glendale for what would later evolve into an approximate year-long investigation that would have a significant impact on the lives of many people in our community, and would change a family forever.

As we look back on the year, we are saddened by the circumstances that we know led to the disappearance and death of Jhessye and the arrest of Jerice Hunter, and yet we are encouraged by the outpouring of support from our law enforcement partners and the community as a whole.

Rarely does an investigation invoke so many different emotions for so many people. None of us will ever forget little Jhessye, and remembrance of her weighs heavily upon our hearts today."

Watch extensive coverage on the case on CBS 5 News and here on cbs5az.com.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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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 missing More>>

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