DATE February 14, 2000 | LOCATION Shelby, North Carolina
Quiet and shy 9-year-old who loved basketball and wanted to be an illustrator Asha Jacquilla Degree was a 9-year-old living with her family in Shelby, North Carolina. Asha, her older brother, 10-year-old O’Bryant, and their parents, Harold and Iquilla Degree, were all very close. Her teachers and classmates described Asha as an exceptional student with outstanding grades and attendance records. She was known to excel in her math and science classes, but she also enjoyed reading and writing.
Asha had dreams of becoming an illustrator in the future and writing and illustrating children’s books for others to enjoy. Other than family and school, the most important thing in Asha’s life was basketball. Asha played on a youth league team in the Fallston area as a point guard.
FBI Charlotte: 704-672-6100
Cleveland County Sheriff's Office: 704-484-4822
The day before Asha disappeared, the family spent their morning at church as always, and went to their Aunt Alisha’s house to spend time and have lunch with their grandmother. After they returned home, Asha and her older brother went to bed in their shared bedroom and Asha would seemingly disappear into thin air.
Asha was last seen on February 14, 2000, between 3:30 and 4:15am by a truck driver and another motorist walking South on highway 18 North of Shelby, North Carolina. 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 a backpack belonging to Asha buried at their worksite, inside were a children’s book belonging to the library of Asha’s school, and a band 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-colored Lincoln Mark IV or Ford Thunderbird with rust around the wheel wells the day she disappeared.
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