Asha Degree, who was 9 years old at the time, went missing from her home in Shelby, North Carolina, on the night of Valentine’s Day in 2000.
Asha’s father told investigators that he last saw her at 2:00am when he checked on his kids before going to sleep.
Both his son and daughter shared a room, and Asha’s brother claimed that although he heard his sister shuffling around that night, he assumed that she was just having trouble sleeping and was restless.
By 6:30am when their mother went to wake the kids, Asha was gone. That would be the last time her family would see her.
The local police were called right away, and although they were quick to respond and search the area, there was no sign of the girl.
Numerous articles of clothing, a purse and bag (described as a book bag) were missing from the room. This led investigators to believe that she had packed a bag and left by herself. There was also no sign of a break in, which suggested that she’d left through the front door of the house, probably using her own key.
These were the only clues officers had to go on, until 3 days later when some stationary belonging to the missing girl as well as a decorative hair bow with a Mickey mouse motif were found near Highway 18, near a tool shed next to a store (a distance of one mile from her home).
According to the Charley project, the store was “Turners upholstery”. A Google earth search shows the area, including highway 18 which, according to eyewitness testimonies, Asha was seen walking down alone during the early hours.
There would be no other clues to her disappearance until a year and half later, when Asha’s backpack which was wrapped in plastic bags was dug up along highway 18 by a man working as a contractor.
He identified it as the missing child’s possessions by the name and address tag inside. Apparently it was found in the opposite direction to which she was seen walking by two separate drivers who saw her between 3:45am and 4am. According to their statements she was clad all in white. One driver doubled back to see her, since she seemed too young to be out alone at night walking the highway in such bad weather. He noted that she ran into the woods (which we can see from the Google earth view is alongside the road) the witness statement doesn’t suggest weather she ran from the witness’ vehicle or just ran into the woods in general.
Police never released an official statement pertaining to the contents of the backpack, but some media reports stated that it contained clothing (possibly those missing from her room) and a pencil case. The Wikipedia page mentions that there were photographs of her family in the bag as well as her basketball kit. Asha’s team had lost a game for the first time ever the day before, something which upset her greatly.
The Charley project page states that some men’s trousers and bones (of animal origin) were nearby Asha’s plastic wrapped book bag. I’m unsure if these items were related in any way, or if they were just noted.
Although Asha was believed to have packed her bag and left voluntarily that night, the later discovery of her plastic wrapped possessions implied foul play.
The most recent update was in mid-2016 when police released information stating that Asha may have gotten into a dark green car with rusted wheel rims, either a Thunderbird or a 70’s Lincoln. This was supposedly a tip the police received.
Over at Reddit unresolved some users were discussing the idea that such a specific car model (including the colour which would be difficult to identify at night from a distance) would be remembered after 16 years was unlikely. They proposed that it was possible someone knew of the kidnapper/killer of Asha and knew that their very specific model of car they used at the time/ the car was still on the property along with the girl / girl’s remains and gave a vague tip that could lead to the perpetrators arrest.
What do you think?