Finding Asha Degree, Shelby's Sweetheart

Home » Part Two ~ Debunking the Runaway Myth: Asha & Her Family’s Profile » Along the Highway: What Really Could Have Happened

Along the Highway: What Really Could Have Happened


The highway theory from the previous page is quite compelling and telling when we consider:

• Raging storm at 4:00 a.m.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Asha was wearing her most highly visible, white outfit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • She couldn’t have found her way in the darkest of nights and in low visibility fog                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Rural area with uneven terrain                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • 55 MPH speed limit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         • Only two witnesses from BOTH directions                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     • Short time factor between O’Bryant’s last recollection and witness’s first recollection

The questions now are: Why was Asha seen running away from the motorist/witness, toward the woods? Why were merely two motorists witness to Asha’s walking alone?

How could this be?

What’s Reported:

Two motorists spotted Asha; one was so disturbed at the sight of a small child walking alone that he turned around three times, only to see who is believed to be Asha, running to an even darker, creepier wooded area. To any nine-year-old, such dark places at night and in a raging storm, however minimal, are chock full of the ‘lions, tigers and bears’ fear factor.

Remember, we’re talking about Asha, a child afraid of dogs–deathly afraid of dogs.

How are we to believe she was running away from civilization and into the scary unknown?

It’s here where we must remind ourselves that Asha doesn’t run away, she goes to; she gravitates toward those she knows and trusts.

I can’t stress this ideal enough, it seems, but it’s a crucial aspect if we’re to decipher this most painful of events.

Going along with the known-abductor ideal, I believe the offender drove Asha to a predetermined place along the highway, instructed her to change clothing from her nightgown and walk a short distance in order that she be seen. I surmise the location is crucial and was chosen for its two-way visibility. The perpetrator needed to see when, where and how much traffic was coming in both directions. It’s quite logical that Asha was only seen when one trucker/motorist was approaching from either direction. This way, he could control the situation; lest more than one witness see her at the same time. Such a scenario would have been too risky.

The topography of the area where Asha was last seen supports this theory: the roads are flat and one can predict a vehicle’s rate of speed and have enough time to judge if the motorist is a ‘suitable candidate’  in serving his purpose as witness without being spotted.

Too, the pace of the traffic (55+ MPH) is too fast for a vehicle or truck to stop abruptly once a driver spotted the child; thus, turning around would have been necessary for any trucker to revisit what they witnessed.

I believe the perpetrator intended for at least three motorists (most likely truckers) to witness Asha walking alone, but when the motorist turned around at 4:00 a.m., it was too close for comfort and he called Asha to him hurriedly, perhaps with the promise of taking her home.

It’s likely Asha’s abductor needed to be near the highway’s intersection. This way, he could see any and all traffic, keeping his presence all the more inconspicuous.

If the aforementioned was indeed precisely what happened, it further supports the theory a person known to the family was responsible for Asha’s disappearance. A stranger wouldn’t care about staging such a scenario and no bookbag would have been involved. Since we know Asha didn’t run away, we’re left with this single most-logical possibility.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Looking at a satellite view above the area, one can clearly see several off-road vehicle paths made clearer by 4-wheelers or four-wheel-drive tires, plenty of places to drive and remain undiscovered very close to the highway where Asha was last seen. One can even see the sad reminder–the highway sign–of Asha’s last steps on Monday.

Adding to Asha’s disappearance and my theory on the staged runaway scenario, several of her personal belongings were found in a storage shed at Turner Upholstery.

All this considered, the abductor was local and very  familiar with the area’s trails.

What I need from Shelby, NC residents: Have you been out on location at those hours when it’s believed Asha was last seen? If anyone has access to road conditions and visibility on February 14, 200o, please contact me.


 Page Poser: Do you think it’s plausible that a child suffering from the same fears as Asha would run into the woods? If you have a child afraid of the darks or dogs, would he/she even consider  going it alone in the conditions I’ve described?

ABOUT THE IMAGE FROM GOOGLE MAPS: On the bottom of the page you can barely make out the billboard and its shadow, a tribute and landmark reminder of Asha’s last sighting  (to the right of the white Google icon). Barely visible at the top of the image immediately right of the blue spyglass is the mud-like dirt road made from off-road tire tracks. These tracks lead to the wooded area you see in the middle of the frame may be the very spot where Asha ran into. For privacy, I retouched the house to obliterate it. My point is, this dirt ‘road’ leads further up and out of the toward Turner Upholstery’s storage shed. Plenty of back roads where one can travel by truck and walk unseen.   Only one who is familiar with the area would know about the shed; it’s way back, off the road and down a curved driveway, not at all visible and would be pitch black at night and visibility, when one factors the heavy rain and fog is next to nothing.

asha ariel

Asha's mom reported Asha must have walked the way of her school bus route. She would have been walking with traffic (back against traffic flow)

Asha’s mom reported Asha must have walked the way of her school bus route.
She would have been walking with traffic (back against traffic flow)

ASHA Fallston RdAnother view by Google Maps of the HWY 18 sign landmarking

the last sighting of Asha. There are NO highway lights; add torrential-downpour rain and we’ve a very dark site, indeed. The wooded area behind the sign may well be where Asha was seen fleeing. Looking at the site from the aerial view, there are plenty of off-road trails only someone familiar with the area and off-roading would know.

A look at the highway where Asha is believed to have traveled. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t believe she could have walked along this unlevel terrain with no assistance and no aid from a flood lamp. Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think. ~Wendy

Asha highway1asha highwayAsha highway2

Pic Poser: What are your thoughts after looking at these images. Is it becoming less or more plausible Asha set out on her own?



  1. Jay says:

    The fact that Asha was walking with traffic stood out to me. When I was just a couple of years older than Asha and I walked along roads where cars traveled rather quickly (though never in the middle of the night), I would ALWAYS walk against traffic so I could see traffic coming towards me so I could get out of the way of any car that seemed to be driving hazardously. It was instinctive to me, even at a young age, to walk against traffic; it may just be me, though. Not sure if Asha would have thought of that, but I would think that if she was running away (which I also believe she was not), she would want to see traffic coming at her in order to not be seen. To me, it supports the abduction theory

    Liked by 1 person

    • findingasha says:

      Hi Jay, Thanks so much for your input on the direction of traffic. I’m with you and believe Asha
      would have wanted to see what was coming close. she was not a ‘brave’ child used to taking off,
      taking risks and being out after dark. Think how creepy she would feel if a car approached her
      from behind as they would be doing. I believe she was driven to that preplanned site, as only
      TWO motorists reported even seeing anyone walking that stretch of road in the predawn hours.
      She reportedly walked the entire 1.3 miles wearing all white clothing and shoes on a HIGHWAY
      and no one else spotted her? That trek would have taken Asha over an hour in those conditions,
      and a mere two witnesses spotted her? Nothing about that walking theory makes sense.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful viewpoint. Feel free to add others. ~Wendy


  2. Aaliyah says:

    I definitely don’t think Asha would have just run into the woods like that. My younger sister is just a little younger than she was and is also massively afraid of dogs and the dark. She wouldn’t even step foot out of the house on her own like that, let alone run into some creepy woods. Heck – even for your average adult, the thought of running into pitch black woods so late during a storm would be terrifying. I know I wouldn’t do it.
    I just discovered this case and have been reading through your blog but I would like to thank you for your dedication to this. We need more people like you.


    • findingasha says:

      Thanks Aaliyah for your thoughtful comment and kind words. I don’t believe LE have put enough weight into such fears as what’s been reported. Asha’s father said she was ‘deathly afraid’of dogs. Lots of people (of all ages) share this fear and it’s not one simply discarded . There are too many fears and personality traits that point far left from what many still believe: that Asha would have left out on her own accord, ventured away, backpack packed and ready for adventure. The weather alone sends up all sorts of signs that speak otherwise. Keep thinking–even if you have an idea that doesn’t fit mine. Thanks again. 🙂


  3. parrish122 says:

    You keep mentioning Asha’s fear of dogs…was this area known for having plenty of strays (or even dogs that had homes but weren’t restrained. What we would’ve called “yard dogs” when I was a kid.). If there were, and she knew it, it would make the theory of her running away less plausible.

    A few things occurred to me while considering if she did run away. She’d certainly be feeling the effects of hypothermia, due to the weather and her state of dress. Since hunger can be a symptom, it could explain why she’d be eating candy (though I think where and when the wrappers were found are interesting ). But other symptoms are dizziness, confusion, and loss of coordination…which makes her supposed travel time more problematic. Even more so when you remember that the cold makes you have to go to the bathroom more often. She almost certainly would want to find a spot away from the road where she wouldn’t be seen. This would take time. Not to mention how the dogs should’ve found her scent where she relieved herself


    • That very area did, indeed, have a good deal of dogs–including a large-breed dog and a dog lot.

      I’m impressed with your theory regarding children in general and hypothermia. A reader sent me the official weather
      for the day and days forward in Feb.

      Like you, I’ve studied the ‘wet cold’ factors with it raining so hard. I won’t repeat your well-written theories,
      as you are spot on. Too, the difficulty for a 9 y/o carrying a wet backpack adds to the timeline.

      Thanks so much for your insightful comment–KEEP ‘EM COMING! 🙂


  4. Alyssa says:

    I’ve always been afraid of the dark. I remember being 11, playing kick the can while visiting family. Between my aunt’s house and a cousin’s house was a half acre of tall, old pines. They were horrifying at night, and I refused to go near them or the creek. Even at 11, my young mind was a cocktail of fear of copperheads, spiders, the creek (which wasn’t deep or fast), and all sorts of unseen monsters. And these were pines I was very familiar with, and walked through often. It took some of my other cousins walking with me to go in there at night.
    My own fear serving as knowledge, I simply refuse to believe Asha did that on her own accord. I hope she’s found safe one day, soon.

    NOTE TO ALL: Some things in most comments are redacted (removed, edited for brevity, that sort of thing). EVERY comment is read, appreciated and crucial to bringing Asha home–it WILL HAPPEN!


    • Hi Alyssa,
      I’m with you on the fear factor with the woods. While I was an active tree climber, I kept to palm trees.
      But when I was 10 y/o my family moved north to a wooded area. I spent that summer truly afraid of dense
      pines. Every child is different of course, but when a raging storm, near freezing temps, and no flashlight
      are factored in, the idea of any child being afraid is very possible.

      No one knows just what happened and I must be careful not to throw something out here as fact, but I’ve studied
      as part of my formal education, how manipulative adults can be and the host of methodology (as you mentioned)
      used: there’s so many ‘what ifs’ and hows and whys; it’s exhausting.

      But my hope is a ‘what if’. What if we all put our minds together and found a way to bring Asha home?

      With only six degrees of separation, we can do it!


  5. Jess Hunter says:

    Hi there. As a nine-year-old child I was very afraid of strangers. If I had been out in the middle of the night–and I agree with you that Asha certainly would not, not normally–and I saw a truck or car slowing down or stopping, I would have run straight toward the scariest woods imaginable. If Asha was shy and afraid of outsiders, it makes perfect sense to me that she would run away from the stranger. That said, I think your theories are quite sound. Thank you for caring so much about Asha.


    • Hi Jess,
      Thank YOU for caring enough to look in on Asha. Some of my ‘theories’ are needing insight from people like you! I appreciate
      a good challenge as well. So, please feel free to disagree. Thanks again, Wendy


  6. Jackie Collins says:

    I been reading your whole blog and have been following her story. Your theory blew my mind from what the media says, (little to nothing). But I do have 1 thing to say, what if he drove her to the shed or close by, scared her and she then ran to the shed scared, hiding for a little while going thru her bookbage in the dark trying to find candy to eat due to being hungry Thats why all the other little things got out, then attempted to run to the main street, seen the trucker got scared ran back into the wood. And sadly the perp found her….


    • Jackie, Thanks for caring about Asha and her family–plus, taking time to comment and lend your insight. I hope that with yours and others’ input, that the person who knows that ‘little something’, recognizes a crucial element that can bring Asha home. Please keep your comments coming–you never know!


  7. JaJoJu says:

    As I read this sad story, I keep thinking of my own kids….ages 12, 9 and 8. Not even my 12 year old son would venture outside at night, alone. Especially during a storm. None of my kids would. I agree with others who state that she may have met somebody directly outside her home and was driven to the location where she was spotted by motorists. Perhaps she was picked up by one person, dropped off along the road, where another person was waiting to take her. Perhaps that second person had their car parked near the storage shed and walked to the woods near the road to wait for the child to be dropped off. Did any of the witnesses describe her emotional state as she was walking? Did she look scared? Confused? Determined? Such a scary story and I feel so bad for her family for having to miss their child and worry about what happened to her.


    • JaJoJu, thanks for your well-said insight, and is certainly pluasible. I couldn’t locate any info regarding witness statements, but I’m very skeptical when it comes to seeing much on such a dark, unlit highway, on a dark night–in pouring rain. It’s so frustrating. And like you, I feel terrible for the family.


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