Finding Asha Degree, Shelby's Sweetheart

Home » Asha’s Story: A Summary of Circumstances

Asha’s Story: A Summary of Circumstances

While practically anyone living in North Carolina can quite readily recall the circumstances regarding Asha’s disappearance, those who live outside the state aren’t so familiar. Here’s a brief summary to acquaint you with her case. Each aspect mentioned here is thoroughly addressed in subsequent pages.

February 14, 2000

  • Happy, shy, quiet, obedient and fearful of dogs, the dark, and storms, 9-year-old basketball star, Asha Jaquilla Degree is discovered missing from her bed at 6:30 a.m. where she lives with her mom, dad and 10-year-old brother.
  • Cleveland County Law Enforcement, along with the SBI and FBI, volunteer search and rescue  teams as well as K-9 teams turned up nothing
  • When the 5:00 nightly news hits the airways, two motorists call investigators and report seeing Asha in the wee hours of the morning  walking alone 1.3 miles in a near-freezing, raging rainstorm on dark, dark Hwy 18. One witness reports a 3:45 sighting and the other a 4:15 sighting.
  • Asha is seen wearing only a white t-shirt, white jeans and white sneakers, carrying her bookbag.
  • She has no hat or coat and no flashlight. There are no highway lights in this rural community.
  • One witness reported a ‘torrential downpour’ at the time of his seeing Asha. He turns around three times only to see Asha run into a patch of woods.
  • Despite ground, K-9 and heat-sensor air searches, not one scent was picked up. Nothing.
  • On Thursday, several items confirmed to be Asha’s, were reported found in an open storage shed/barn
  • Eighteen months later, Asha’s bookbag/backpack was unearthed 27 miles north by a worker grading a site for development
  • The family had no internet, nor did either child have a cell phone or private land line; both children were adequately monitored with other close family living on the same street.
  • No one has come forward with new information and no clues have surfaced

Please go through each page in order, so you have a grasp of the case. I  welcome your insight, comments and suggestions–even those in dispute of what I post. It’s not about me; it’s about a resolution.

Thanks, everyone!



  1. mb says:

    I love your site. Here’s what I’m thinking though…

    Yes, she had a low-risk lifestyle and doesn’t match up with the runaway type with emotional problems. However, she was a high achiever– good grades, obedient, involved parents…I feel like she may have wanted to leave early that day to go practice basketball since she brought her outfit. I’m wondering when her next game was. Wouldn’t it make sense that she’d think she could walk somewhere to practice? This is a people-pleaser, as you said it. She may think, in her 9 yr. old mind, that if she practices a lot, she will become a better player, which will impress her family.

    I’m wondering if someone close to her– like you’ve suggested– told her that they would help her practice early that morning, and would drop her off at school and let her parents know where she is.

    Do we know if any basketball courts are along that road?

    The fact that she brought pictures suggests to me that she thought she’d be gone a few days. 3 days for example. That would again support the idea that a person told her that they’d help her practice, she wouldn’t get in trouble, they’d talk to her parents….what do you think?


    • findingasha says:

      Thanks for reading my blog and caring about Asha. I do believe she was manipulated in a way that she would be doing something GOOD. What I’ve learned from law enforcement (a news report) is Asha’s bookbag was packed over the course of several days (I’m thinking Friday, Sat. and Sun. or thereabouts), so whoever it was that knows her planned this tragedy well ahead of time. I can’t discount your theory; I don;t know the ‘exacts’ about this case but I do believe Asha’s aiming to please made her a target and that person knew the day-to-day details enough to carry this out successfully.

      Keep thinking and posting. Someone, somewhere may see these tips and something ring a bell. Let’s hope, anyway.
      Thanks again!


  2. findingasha says:

    Oh, there are a lot of basketball courts and schools in close proximity to Asha’s home but the rain storm would have prevented her going out to practice. Hmmm . . .


    • Julie Davis says:

      I wonder who was interviewed regarding this? Have they been followed and checked out since then? Could someone have this child hidden?


      • findingasha says:

        I’ve seen reports where local law enforcement says they will be ‘re-interviewing witnesses’ but I don’t believe that’s really being done. I know I’m being unfair with this statement, as that’s MY opinion and not factual. I do believe certain people haven’t been scrutinized as they should have been back in 2000 and even now. After communicating with a few people, I’m of that opinion. I think LE should REALLY take Asha’s case from page one and one person stay dedicated to it. I’ve mentioned that for every year Asha’s been missing, there’s as many detectives taking up the case; it gets moved along from one hand to the other. I don’t have any authority to look into an open case but I sure have questions where some things I learned don’t jive with what’s being reported. I know law enforcement has to hold some things back but I’m not referring to anything that would be withheld. My apologies for being so cryptic but name-dropping isn’t wise. My theories could be off or just plain wrong but the things I’m seeing support my ideals. Hmmm . . .


      • findingasha says:

        What happened and where Asha is, is the most painful part of my involvement in researching and writing this blog. I won’t allow myself to speculate too much past her abduction. But to answer your question, yes, Asha could be hidden somewhere. It would be irresponsible for me to speculate; all I can do is hold out hope. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Asha could return home one day like the three Cleveland Ohio women hidden for over a decade? Or, the woman kidnapped as an infant in a NYC hospital who ‘found’ herself ? Whatever happened to Asha, I can only side with her mom and keep hope alive. I keep digging and looking for people who knew Asha but I’ve found that in 15 years, folks have passed away or don;t remember much. I know someone ‘out there’ knows something, has that piece of information I need to fill in these blanks I have along the way.Thanks so much for your questions, Julie–keep them coming!


    • lisa mcdaniel says:

      Actually there are few if any places to play basketball within walking distance to Asha’s house. Maybe the church but I’m not sure. My daughter was in the same class as Asha and was shocked when this happened. We helped in the search and fed the volunteers. I still pray for her safe return or any information on her whereabouts.


      • findingasha says:

        Thanks so much for caring about Asha and her family–and the community–when they needed you, Lisa.
        I appreciate you stopping on the blog here and hope your child came away stronger and not too traumatized
        as young children can be when terrible things happen out of their realm of understanding (like how a person
        can be so awful as to be part of Asha’s disappearance).

        I’m sure your prayers for Asha and the Degree family are felt and so appreciated!
        Thanks again, Lisa.



  3. Ashley smith says:

    My ole man is her family this is so sad i remember wen this happen


    • findingasha says:

      Your comment, Ashley, is why I’m doing this blog. The sadness of this magnitude
      and so close to home is too painful. Please pass the blog on to your family and
      your local friends–even if they’re not local, pass it on. I’d certainly appreciate it.
      I’d love to hear from them and value your input!
      Thanks so much for caring enough to find this blog. And maybe we can find Asha, for
      better or worse, and bring her home to her family.


  4. Anita says:

    Was a list of child predators and sex offenders checked and interviewed that lived in a 5 to 10 mile radius of where she lived and was reported missing? If so, their property should be searched for possibilities of a crime taking place!


    • findingasha says:

      While I don’t know what LE did, I would think looking up sex offenders would be the first course of business, I also would have expected that the property near where Asha was last seen would have been searched. But there was some disconnect there, where it was Ms. Turner, the owner of the barn/shed who found Asha’s hair bow and markers, etc. and NOT LE. I’m not a fan of how the case was handled in those first crucial hours.


  5. Tammie Acuna says:

    Why didn’t the person’s who spotted her stay there and call police while she was hiding in woods.Cold and stormy weather and a child walking without protection..I’d never just kept driving away😭


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