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Oct-23-2011 00:41printcommentsVideo

Grandmother of Missing 5-Year Old Girl Blames Lackluster Media Coverage on Race

$16,000 in reward money for information regarding Jahessye Shockley's whereabouts.

Jahessye Shockley - missing from Glendale, Ariz.
5-year old Jahessye Shockley- missing from Arizona.

(GLENDALE, Ariz.) - A grandmother in Arizona says the disappearance of her missing five-year old grandchild Jahessye (JES'-ee) Shockley hasn't received ample attention because she is African American.

Shirley Johnson's point doesn't seem hard to believe, and I say that after having covered many of these events for more than two decades, where kids go missing and people come out of the woodwork. Blogs light up like wildfire, with theories galore and tips, Facebook pages, etc. This disappearance of a girl so cute it brings a tear, has received no such attention.

Little Jahessye has been missing almost two weeks, and her grandmother has been begging the media to cover her grandchild's disappearance. Jahessye Shockley was last seen on 11 October. She disappeared while her mother was out running an errand.

The blog writes: "Police believe that the girl left the house through the front door, but have no suspects in her disappearance. They've utilized more than 100 officers for the search and checked a 3-mile radius around the girl's house. This has produced almost nothing."

I was very critical about the Amber Alert program in a recent article, The Amber Alert has Become a Government Money Tool, because the system is being activated only when very specific information about the abductor is known, and in the alerts we typically receive, it is almost always a parent who has a financial obligation to a government agency.

However it does an Amber Alert was issued for Jahessye Shockley, and it now has been Canceled. Even if it did not lead to her recovery, it is good that the system was utilized in this case.

Shirley Johnson- Jahessye Shockley's grandmother.

Shirley Johnson, the girl's grandmother, went to the state capitol this week to bring attention to her grand child's disappearance, "The Glendale Police Department has not brought this to the forefront.

They botched this investigation," Johnson told reporters. "I believe it’s because she’s a little black girl."

Glendale Police Sgt. Brent Coombs disagrees with Johnson, saying: "It’s still as important as it was the first day that we were working the case," Coombs added. "We’re never going to stop."

Coombs says what matters is there’s a 5-year-old girl missing, "It’s the department’s No. 1 priority. There’s so much mystery around it and we’ve got an obligation to get to the bottom of it and try our best to bring her back safely or find out where she’s at."

Jahessye Shockley is approximately approximately three feet five inches tall, she weighs 55 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. Jahessye has long hair with a ponytail. She was last seen wearing a solid white t-shirt and jeans.

The department is offering a $10,000 reward for information regarding the Jahessye Shockley's whereabouts, and the family is offering an additional $5,000. Another $1,000 is being offered by the Arizona witness tip line. Anyone who has information should contact authorities immediately.

All tips eligible for the $10,000 reward offered by police must be sent to 480-WITNESS (480-948-6377). If you have information on Jahessye and can’t remember the silent witness number, please call 911 immediately; you will still be eligible for the reward. You will remain anonymous.

Comparing the Number of Stories

Lisa Irwin- missing since early Oct.

Lisa Irwin was last seen "around" 3 October 2011. On the front page of Google News, under the name 'Lisa Irwin', there are seven 'batches' for a lack of a better word, of news stories relating to her missing status.

  • 1195 news articles - Entries about cadaver dogs
  • 6 news articles - More entries about cadaver dogs
  • 5 news articles - Parallels with Fort Bragg case
  • 2841 news articles - Attorney Joe Tacopina enters case
  • 1220 news articles - Private investigator joins search
  • 2823 news articles - Mom says police accused her
  • 20 news articles - TV stations get subpoenas

Total number of news articles about Lisa Irwin: 8110

Jahessye Shockley has been missing since 11 October 2011. On the front page of Google News, under the name 'Jahessye Shockley', there are two 'batches' of news stories relating to her missing status.

  • 711 news articles - Family appears in media
  • 322 news articles - Search grows desperate
Total number of news articles about Jahessye Shockley: 933

Lisa Irwin has been missing eight days longer than Jahessye Shockley, and there are 7,177 more articles about Lisa than there are about Jahessye. The time difference accounts for a difference, but that is an incredible difference. There are 3,490 "results" under the name Lisa Irwin, and 687 "results" for the name Jahessye Shockley. I think this clearly establishes the fact that the African-American girl has and continues to, gain far less attention from newsrooms. More resources below:

Glendale Police press release:

October 11, 2011
CONTACT: Sgt. Brent Coombs or
Officer Tracey Breeden
(602) 590-5733

Glendale Police Seek Help Finding Missing Child

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Today, a little after 5:00 pm, Officers responded to a call of a missing child at an apartment complex in the area of 6800 N. 45th Avenue. A five year old female, Jahessye Shochley, had wandered away from siblings at her residence a little before 5:00 pm, possibly exiting out the front door. When the mother arrived home and found her child missing, she immediately called police for assistance.At this time, there are currently no suspicious circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance. Jahessye is a black female, approximately 3 feet 5 inches tall, 55 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Jahessye has long hair with a ponytail. Jahessye was last seen wearing a solid white t-shirt and jeans.Glendale Police Detectives have been searching the area in an attempt to locate the child. Phoenix Police air unit and patrol units are also assisting with the search . Glendale Police is asking for the community’s assistance in helping locate Jahessye. The tip line for the public in regards to the missing child is 623-930-HELP (4357).

Reference: Glendale Police page regarding Jahessye Shockley

"The Glendale Police Department has not brought this to the forefront. They botched this investigation,"
Johnson told reporters. "I believe it's because she's a little black girl." Meanwhile: Today, the new issue of People
hit stands, with blue-eyed Baby Lisa — now a household name — on the cover. Read more, visit: JEZEBEL

CBS News published these booking photos of Jahessye's mom, Jerice Hunter and the child's biological dad,
George Shockley, were taken after the pair was arrested in October of 2005 in northern California by Vallejo
police, for child abuse. Read more, visit: KPHO TV in Phoenix.

Tim King: Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 91 writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address:

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Anonymous November 4, 2011 7:14 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks to our President this Country is more devided then ever. Especially black Americans keep using the race card. If they don't get what they want it's because they are black. Very seldom you hear a black person say "I'm an American". No no no it's always African American. Does that mean that all the black people were born in Africa and them came to the US? That's wat it sounds like. Does any black person has enough pride to say "I'm an American!". Guess not, they always make sure they are African AmericAns. Maybe some of the black people need to change their birth Country to Africa. Now the President has the right to say that he is African American because there is enough evidence that he was born there. An he used all his life the race card. So let's grow up and try to say "I'm an American". Get over it if no one kisses your butt if you dont get what you want.

DJ: It's not just the blacks. I don't when it started but Americans have been hyphenated for decades. Ronald Reagan was an Irish-American. Pay attention and you'll see the hyphenation everywhere. For some reason, Canadians don't describe themselves that way to nearly the same extent.

In the same vein, American males usually add Jr. to their names. I've never heard of a Canadian male doing that. I have no explanation for the difference. 

Anonymous October 24, 2011 2:42 pm (Pacific time)

Editor There is 'one ninth' the amount of coverage for the little Black girl, what part don't you get? I hope you never have to find yourself in this family's shoes." So beyond local coverage, that area where the child is actually from, what does it matter going national or international unless some time has gone by. I am also glad I would never be in that families shoes, we GPS all our family members right after we circumcise them.

Editor: Whoa... 

Anonymous October 24, 2011 8:08 am (Pacific time)

I first heard about this while listening to the Laura Ingram show (national show), and later the FOX Network (national showing) was showing it repeatedly. I did NOT see any other networks showing this case. It would be interesting to see what racial balance is actually existing (or not) in showing these unfortunate events. Of course the other commenter, Luke Easter, was spot on, it is the responsibility of any childs family to watch over them. To make this a racial issue is something for people like Sharpton to pursue, and those of his ilk never let facts get in their way. Considering all the thousands on missing children that happen yearly, it is an editor/management decision on how it's reported, but there will always be those who want to make everything some kind of racial problem. Too bad. Kind of like why do they under-report racial crime in the national news?

Editor There is 'one ninth' the amount of coverage for the little Black girl, what part don't you get?  I hope you never have to find yourself in this family's shoes.

Luke Easter October 23, 2011 5:25 am (Pacific time)

While the mother was out? Grandma should be questioning the whereabouts of the mother and who was with that precious little girl at the time. The media was not in charge of her granddaughter. How old were those siblings she wandered away from? Only responsible people should be in charge. Something is not right here and it is not the media it is the mom.

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