Asha Jaquilla Degree

Asha Jaquilla Degree was a nine-year-old girl who lived at home with her mother, father and brother. They lived in Shelby, North Carolina.

February 14th, 2000, was just a normal day for Asha and her family. Asha and her brother were tucked into bed at around 8:00pm that evening.

Shortly after midnight, there was a car accident close to their house which caused them to lose power. At around 2:30am, Harold (Asha’s father), checked on the two children and saw that they were both still soundly asleep in their beds.

However, when 6:30am came around, and Iquilla (Asha’s mother), went to get the children ready for school, Asha was nowhere to be found.

As soon as Iquilla and Harold realised that Asha was missing, the authorities were immediately contacted. Despite numerous searches and appeals, Asha has never been seen or heard from again, and her whereabouts are still unknown.

Asha Degree. Credit: FBI

Asha’s brother said that in the middle of the night, he heard Asha’s bed squeak and crack. He thought that it was just Asha moving around in her bed, and went back to sleep.

The police and Asha’s family noted that Asha had taken her school bookbag with her and that there were no signs of forced entry to the house. This meant that Asha must have left the house on her own accord – but Asha’s mum described her as being a “highly sensible girl” and said that she was “wary of strangers, and wouldn’t even pet the local dogs.”

Two people called the police department the next day, saying that they had seen a girl who matched Asha’s description on Highway 18 at around 4am. One of the witnesses claimed that he tried to approach the young girl, but as soon as he got close, she ran off into the woods.

These are the last confirmed sightings of Asha.

The police also found Asha’s hair bow in a nearby shed the day after she went missing. A huge search entailed for her, spanning over 7 days and over 9,000 man-hours. Over 300 tips were received and were also searched and investigated thoroughly, but there were no leads.

Over 18 months later, on the 3rd of August 2001, Asha’s backpack was discovered by construction workers who were digging an access road in Burke County – which is over thirty miles from where Asha was last seen.

Inside the backpack, police found a New Kids on the Block t-shirt and the book Dr Seuss McElligot’s Pool which had been checked out of Asha’s school library. Whilst the backpack and its contents did provide some more evidence, it didn’t give authorities or Asha’s family any clues or leads as to where Asha went that night, or where she is now.

The items were found in Asha’s backpack. Credit: Talk Murder to Me

In 2004 a prison inmate claimed that Asha had been killed and that they knew where she was buried. Searches took place at the location the inmate gave, but authorities only found animal remains.

In 2015, a person gave a tip that claimed that they had seen a young girl enter a green Ford Thunderbird or Lincoln Mark IV on the night that Asha disappeared. This tip led the FBI to announce it was reopening its investigation into Asha’s disappearance in 2016, and in 2018 they released the images of the items that were found inside Asha’s backpack.

In 2020, an inmate at a North Carolina state correctional facility contacted The Shelby Star, saying that he had heard someone talking about killing and burying Asha. Investigators interviewed the inmate and another inmate, but no new information was found.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Asha’s disappearance.

Asha’s mother, Iquilla, believes that her daughter is still alive and that someone knows something about her disappearance.

All I want is to see her.” Iquilla Degree, speaking in 2020.

Asha was 9 years old at the time of her disappearance. She had black hair and brown eyes, weighed 60lbs and stood at around 4’6″. If she is still alive today, she would be 32 years old.

Do you know where Asha is?

Asha at the time of her disappearance, and then Asha age progressed to 30. Credit: WCNC / National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Tags:

Unsolved, True Crime, Missing, Missing Person, Shelby, North Carolina, Asha Degree, 2000, Missing Child, Mystery, Disappearance

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