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Family member of missing 5-year-old begs for national media attention

By Lateef Mungin, CNN
updated 11:53 AM EDT, Sat October 22, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jahessye Shockley was last seen on October 11
  • An $11,000 reward has been offered in the case
  • "I want the national media to pick it up," her grandmother says
  • "Continued coverage absolutely is critical," a retired police officer says

(CNN) -- Ten days later and despite an $11,000 reward, police have not found a missing 5-year old Arizona girl.

Jahessye Shockley wandered out of her Glendale, Arizona home on October 11, unnoticed by her older siblings who were supposed to be watching her. Her mother called police after returning home from an errand.

In the first three days after the girl went missing, Glendale police wrapped up a grid search of her neighborhood and moved into the second phase of their investigation where they are following up on tips they receive from the public.

Family members have begged for information on Jahessye's whereabouts.

"Please bring my baby back... Her safe return is all I want," Jahessye 's mother, Jerice Hunter, said last week. "She belongs to this family... She's somebody's child. Mine. Please bring my child home."

Shirley Johnson, the girl's grandmother, said she is wondering why the national media hasn't spread the word on the case.

"I want the national media to pick it up... I won't stop til they do. I don't know why it's not national now," Shirley Johnson, Jahessye's worried grandmother, told CNN affiliate KPHO Thursday. "They have the ability to make sure someone from across the nation knows what's going on."

The role of race in missing child stories

Jahessye 's case has been mentioned in the Washington Post and the Huffington Post in recent days. But it has not received much national television coverage compared to cases like Baby Lisa, the 11-month-old missing Missouri girl. That case has received daily national news coverage and has been featured on the cover of People magazine.

Retired police officer and child advocate Paul Penzone told KPHO that he noticed the lack of national media coverage.

"I don't know what's missing or why, but in our community this is a big deal," said Penzone. "Continued coverage absolutely is critical. The eyes of the community are going to be biggest tool for law enforcement if this little girl is somewhere where she can be seen and recovered."

On the day she disappeared Jahessye was left home with her 13-, 9- and 6-year-old siblings, police said. The children have been interviewed separately by experts and have maintained that they do not know what happened to her, Glendale police Sgt. Brent Coombs has said.

Ann $11,000 reward has been offered in the case.

Jahessye is described as a black female about 3 feet 5-inches tall, 55 pounds with black hair in a ponytail and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, blue jean shorts and pink sandals.

Anyone with information about Jahessye's disappearance is asked to call the Glendale Police Department at 623-930-HELP (4357).

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