Valentine’s Day Marks 17 Years of Unsolved Disappearance of North Carolina Girl
Feb 15, 2017 08:32 PM EST
This year's Valentine's Day marks 17 years since Asha Degree vanished from her bedroom in her family's home at Shelby, North Carolina. The girl, a teen now, is still not found, although the police continue the investigations.
Nine-year-old Asha was last seen in the early morning hours of Feb. 14, 2000, in the bedroom she shared with her older brother. Asha was gone the next morning as her mother came to wake her children for school. Her brother told the police he heard noises in the middle of the night, but assumed Asha had gone to the bathroom or was simply having trouble sleeping.
Following the incident, two truck drivers reported spotting a girl matching Asha's description around 3:30 am, that same morning it all happened, walking alone along Highway 18, not more than a mile and a half from the Degree home. The men told the police that the girl hurried off the road and was swallowed by the darkness, according to NBC.
Authorities believe Asha left her home sometime that night, and that she was most likely abducted. Last year, a new witness had come forward to confirm the possible abduction.
They reported seeing a girl who resembled Asha getting into a dark green, 1970s Lincoln Mark IV or Ford Thunderbird with rust around the wheel. It was that same morning she disappeared.
In a massive search launched in the following weeks, investigators found some school supplies which they believed belong to Asha, namely a pencil, marker and a hair bow. The supplies were found in a tool shed near where the truck drivers had spotted the young girl. Eighteen months later, Asha's backpack, with her name and telephone number written inside, was found buried in a plastic trash bag along Highway 18 about 26 miles from Asha's home.
Although 17 years have passed, Asha's case remains active. The Cleveland County Sheriff's Office, the Shelby Police Department and the FBI continue to aggressively investigate the case, WCNC said.
Meanwhile, Asha's loved ones remain steadfast in their hope that she will be found someday. "I will never give up on her," Iquilla Degree, Asha's mother said.