Investigators Seek Public Assistance in 20-Year Missing Girl Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) encourage the public to come forward with information to help find Asha Degree. February 14, 2020, marks 20 years since Asha left her home in Shelby, North Carolina. Several drivers witnessed her walking south along North Carolina Highway 18 around 4:00 a.m. but did not alert police immediately. Her parents reported her missing a few hours later when they woke up and found Asha’s bed empty. More than a year later, her book bag was discovered buried along the same highway where she was last seen walking.
“I don’t believe anyone intended for Asha to be gone this long. If you know what happened to Asha, please come forward. It is time to be honest about what you know. Twenty years is a long time to live with this burden. It’s time for the truth to be revealed. And it’s time for Asha’s family to get the answers they deserve. Together, we can bring Asha home,” said Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children created a new age-progressed photo showing what Asha may look like at age 29. The updated image will be featured on digital billboards across the Charlotte area.
A story and videos about Asha’s disappearance and the investigation are now featured on fbi.gov as part of a new publicity campaign. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children created a new age-progressed photo showing what Asha may look like at age 29. The updated image will be featured on digital billboards across the Charlotte area, thanks to our partners at Adam’s Outdoor Advertising. The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI used the new photo to update a wooden sign near Asha’s home and one near her church.
“Everyone in the Charlotte community is familiar with Asha’s story. Many of the FBI, SBI, and sheriff’s office employees who responded to her disappearance 20 years ago still work there today. We are as committed to finding out what happened to Asha today as they were two decades ago,” said John Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina.
“The case of Asha Degree still tugs at our heartstrings. To know that 20 years later, we still can’t give her family closure is heartbreaking. But because we believe in justice and we believe in what’s right, we will continue to work with our partners to solve this case and bring justice on behalf of Asha’s family,” said SBI Director Robert Schurmeier.
We spoke to Asha’s parents, and her Mother Iquilla told us, “We’re hoping and we’re praying that she’s had a halfway decent life even though we didn't get to raise her. She was 9 years old and she’ll be 30 this year. So, we’ve missed everything. But I don't care. If she walked in the door right now, I wouldn't care what I missed. All I want to do is see her.”
The FBI continues to offer a $25,000 reward for information leading to the person or persons responsible for Asha’s disappearance. The community and sheriff’s office are offering an additional $20,000 reward, bringing the total reward to $45,000.
If you have information on Asha’s disappearance call the FBI at (704) 672-6100 or the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office at (704) 484-4822.