Police now believe a 5-year-old Arizona girl missing for more than two months was killed and that her body was dumped in a trash bin across town before her mother reported her missing -- the most substantive information detectives have released about what they think happened to the girl.
Police in Glendale stopped short of saying who they think killed Jhessye Shockley, but Glendale police Sgt. Brent Coombs reiterated Wednesday that the girl's mother is the "No. 1 focus."
"We're in what we believed to be the worst-case scenario from the beginning," Coombs said.
A month ago, detectives arrested Jhessye's mother, Jerice Hunter, on a child abuse charge related to the girl, announcing at the time that they didn't believe they'd find the girl alive.
Hunter was released from jail days later, and the charge against her was dropped. Prosecutors said at the time that they wanted further investigation and were worried that Hunter would not be eligible for a potential murder charge if she was convicted of abusing Shockley, a situation known as double jeopardy.
A call to Hunter's home was not returned Wednesday, but she has previously maintained her innocence.
Coombs said tips that came in following Hunter's arrest and evidence collected during search warrants led police to believe Jhessye's body was dumped in Tempe.
Coombs did say detectives believe Jhessye's body is now in a landfill south of the Phoenix area, and that detectives are deciding whether to search for it.