Missing: Asha Degree | Shelby, NC | Uncovered
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This 9 year old left her house in the middle of the night and disappeared.
Overview of Asha Degree:
On Sunday, February 13, 2000, Asha and her family spent their morning at church like normal. They went to their Aunt Alisha’s house for lunch, and the children visited with their grandmother. The family returned home around 8 pm, and because the power had gone out due to a car accident, the kids skipped their baths and got ready for bed. Asha and O’Bryant shared a bedroom and settled in for the night. After this, Asha’s family would never see her again.
Asha’s mother, Iquilla, awoke early to give the kids a bath on February 14. They would need to get up earlier than usual since they didn’t take them last night. Not only was it Valentine’s day, but it was also Iquilla and her husband, Harold’s, 11th wedding anniversary. Undoubtedly, a devastating day to discover her beloved daughter, Asha, missing from her bed. When Iquilla couldn’t find her anywhere in the house, in the family’s cars or property, Iquilla called nearby family members to see if she had gone across the street to see them. When nobody else knew where she was, she immediately called the police and a full search was in effect before 8 am.
The last known sighting of Asha was on February 14, 2000, between 3:30 and 4:15 am. A truck driver and another motorist saw her walking South on Highway 18 North of Shelby, NC. When one of the motorists turned around to check on Asha, the driver reported she ran into the woods. After extensive police searches that day, items belonging to Asha were found in a tool shed behind Debbie Turner’s Upholstery shop, roughly a mile north of Asha’s residence.
Over a year later on August 3, 2001, a construction contractor found Asha’s backpack buried at their worksite. Inside was a children’s book belonging to the library of Asha’s school, and a New Kids on the Block t-shirt which did not belong to Asha. More recently, law enforcement shared new details that a witness reportedly saw Asha get into either an early 1970s green-Lincoln Mark IV or Ford Thunderbird with rust around the wheel wells, on the day she disappeared.
Asha Degree’s disappearance has spurred several theories. Some suspect an abduction or perhaps that she was groomed by someone she knew, and many believe she ran away by choice. Police believe she falls outside of the typical profile of a runaway, but she did have a backpack with her.
There is no conclusive evidence telling us exactly what happened, leaving us to wonder ‘What happened to Asha Degree?’ and, ‘Can we help find her?’
Using the community to uncover answers and bring hope to the families of the murdered or missing:
We’re building a software platform to combine data, analytics, and the wisdom of the community to help solve the cold cases of murdered or missing people. We believe the more resources we can provide to digital volunteers and citizen solvers mean more Citizen Detective communities. We can reduce the burden for law enforcement, use our collective impact and success of the platform to influence public policy, and ultimately start getting wrongful murder convictions overturned and cold cases solved.
National murder clearance rates continue to fall annually.
Every year, more than 5,000 cases go unsolved. Victims’ cases that go cold most often are BIPOC, sex workers, or members of the LGBTQ+ community.
1: Indigenous women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average.
2: 80% of trans women killed in the past five years were Black, and only 42 percent of the cases resulted in an arrest—declining murder clearance rates exclusively occurred among homicides of Black victims.
3: Moreover, sex workers are 18 times more likely to be murdered. These aren’t just statistics, they are people: who deserve justice.
By no means do we think we can do this in one day, one month, or even one year, but it’s past time to start working on something that matters—together.
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