The Search for Ashley Summers

On the 17th anniversary of Ashley’s disappearance, the FBI calls on the public to help bring her home 

Ashley Summers was 14 years old when she was last seen in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2007.

Ashley Summers was 14 years old when she was last seen in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2007. 

Ashley came from a large, close-knit family—many extended relatives lived nearby on the west side of Cleveland. It wasn't unheard of for her to visit with them frequently or stay over at their houses somewhat unscheduled.  

"She was a typical teenager and had started to disagree with her mom about a couple of things, most notably in the few weeks leading up to her disappearance," said FBI Cleveland Special Agent Cristin McCaskill, the lead agent in Ashley’s case. "One point of contention was when Ashley got a tattoo—it read 'Gene,' the name of her boyfriend at the time, with a heart around it."

McCaskill explained that “sometimes day-to-day life could get chaotic, but nonetheless, everyone purportedly very much cared about each other and kept in touch."

So, it was especially concerning when, after a few days, no one had seen or heard from Ashley.  

She was last seen around July 7 – 8 and was reported missing to The Cleveland Department of Police on July 11, 2007. 

"Ashley is deeply missed and loved. Her mysterious disappearance has left our family in pieces. We cling to the hope of her safe return. We appeal to anyone with information to come forward and contact the Cleveland FBI."

Jennifer Summers, Ashley’s mother

The Investigation

Police initially reported Ashley as a runaway, likely due to recent tensions with her family and because she frequently spent time at other relatives’ homes.

But her family didn't believe she had disappeared on her own accord.

The FBI joined the investigation in 2008 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) alerted the FBI Cleveland Field Office about Ashley’s case.

At the time, there was another missing girl from the west side of Cleveland—Gina DeJesus, one of three women who were held hostage by Ariel Castro. Ashley and Gina were similar in age and from the same part of Cleveland. Initially, there was speculation that Ashley may have also been one of Castro’s victims. However, no evidence supported this, and Ashley’s case became an independent investigation.

Throughout the investigation, law enforcement has interviewed family members, neighbors, and anyone who could have potentially offered information leading to Ashley’s whereabouts. Gene—Ashley’s boyfriend at the time—and his family cooperated with authorities, and there has been no evidence to suggest that foul play was involved on Gene’s part.

"I can't think of a single agent on our squad or analyst that hasn't touched this investigation," said McCaskill. "And this is including a lot of victim specialist support, analyst support, and support from agents and analysts on other squads, as well as the FBI Evidence Response Team and Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) team."

From the start of the investigation, FBI Victim Specialist Jennifer Piero has been the primary contact for Ashley’s family. In her role, Piero offers support and shares case updates. “Any time we have received tips and conducted searches or canvasses, we have notified Ashley’s family,” explained Piero. “If we have anticipated something in the investigation that would make the news, we’ve contacted Ashley’s family in advance to ensure they learned about it first.” 

In 2018, a series of inquiries—as a result of the investigation into Ashley’s disappearance—led to the discovery that Ashley’s great uncle, Kevin Donathan, was actively abusing young children. Donathan was indicted on multiple counts, including rape, attempted rape, and five counts of gross sexual imposition. He pleaded guilty, and in 2020, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison, where he still resides.

Help Find Ashley

Ashley is described as 5'5" tall and around 130 pounds when she was last seen. She has brown hair and blue eyes and has a tattoo on her upper-right arm with the name "Gene" in black ink over a red heart. She would now be 31 years old. 

"Ashley is deeply missed and loved," said Jennifer Summers, Ashley’s mother. "Her mysterious disappearance has left our family in pieces. We cling to the hope of her safe return. We appeal to anyone with information to come forward and contact the Cleveland FBI."

As far as leads go, McCaskill emphasized that "anything is on the table. We will go wherever the evidence leads us. We're going to knock down every door, and we're going to try and identify every different potential lead and follow it to its logical conclusion because I'm not going to rule anything out at this point in time. I’m just as willing to believe one theory over another based on the evidence and to follow that wherever it takes us."

"This is still very much an active investigation," McCaskill continued. "We still hope to bring resolution to Ashley’s family. And I believe that the only way we're going to be able to do that at this point is through tips—and the only way to generate those tips is by getting Ashley’s story out to the public. I am certain there are individuals out there who we haven’t spoken to yet. If someone believes they saw Ashley or knows where she may be, we welcome all tips."

If you have any information about Ashley Summers, please contact FBI Cleveland at (216) 522-1400.

You can also contact your local FBI office or submit a tip online at Any tips may remain anonymous. 

Crime Stoppers is offering reward money. You can submit tips to Crime Stoppers by calling (216) 25-CRIME.