Finding Asha Degree, Shelby's Sweetheart

Understanding Asha’s World

I’ve already identified the runaway profile and clearly, Asha doesn’t belong in that realm. So, we’ll move along to Asha’s ‘world.’

In keeping with the adage, ‘Prior behavior is an indication of future behavior’ and how important this ideal is to learning what happened to Asha Degree and why and by whom, I’ll examine her life and how she related to the people around her.

Asha has two very attentive parents and is close to her older, 10-year-old brother, O’Bryant. Her mother, Iquilla exclaimed, ” . . . they were as thick as thieves,” referring to the siblings’ bond. While it’s hard to imagine with both parents working, Asha was fully supervised by trusting people; her brother even walked his little sister safely from school bus to class each morning. Both children rode the bus to and from school.

Extended family, Asha’s paternal Grandmother, Joanne Jackson and aunt Alisha Degree, lived on the same street and shared responsibility, keeping the siblings when school was out for the day. Asha’s father, Harold worked second shift at PPG and mom worked at Kawai International, a piano company.

After school, Asha, a fourth-grader at Fallston Elementary School, and O’Bryant were expected to do homework upon arriving home, as their parents insisted on academic excellence, checking homework for completion before allowing playtime.

Apparently, this arrangement was successful, as it’s reported by the school principal that Asha had only missed one day of school in September while achieving A/B honor roll status. The parents confirm that Asha loved school.

Both children participated in extracurricular activities and Asha  was star point guard in peewee basketball. One or both parents attended all games, actively cheering the siblings on.

While Asha’s weekdays were filled with school and sports practice, her weekends were equally engaging with ball games and church where the family were active members of Macedonia Baptist Church, attending Sunday service. True to Asha’s structured and predictable family life, she’d gone to this same church–quite remarkably–since birth.

Asha had such a close-knit family life; she would never have left her happy home on her own.

Stepping into a world of the unknown and considering both her fears and being utterly shy of strangers, running away from the love and affection she has for her family is not plausible by any stretch of the imagination. This profile simply doesn’t fit any child running away in the dead of night.

Asha was not running away that fateful day, rather she was going to.

On the next pages I’ll narrow down the fields of the how, why and who I feel is responsible for Asha’s disappearance.

* Please note that I do not have inside knowledge and can’t benefit from what law enforcement knows; I can only piece together what’s available to us, the public and render an opinion. The media is subject to errors and/or omissions as directed by officials. Sometimes detectives leave out certain facts (‘hold backs’), as availing them to public eyes may be detrimental to the investigation. Rather than being frustrated with those inside ‘secrets’ I’m happy there is more to the case, perhaps quite a bit more.

 

Page Posers: From what you read here about Asha’s fears, does the runaway theory hold any weight in your mind? Do you think kids can overcome so many phobias suddenly and go unrealized by family members? Do you know your own child’s fears? If they’ve grown past them, how did they overcome them? 

Advertisements

5 Comments

  1. SavingAsha says:

    Hi Wendy. I stumbled upon your blog after hearing about this story tonight (7/11/15). I have not heard of it previously, but I am now 100% intrigued and blown away by your blog. I have studied child development, child psychology, and abnormal psychology, and I am blown away by how you have gotten into the minds of both Asha & abductor. Do you know if anyone close to the case has read your blog? Parents? Police? Friends or congregation members? It’s my opinion that you have established Asha did not run away or go off walking down the road by herself for any reason. I believe the items were absolutely planted and there are a few possibilities as to why the book bag was neatly buried. I know that you are being discreet about certain things, but I’m so curious. I feel like this puzzle can so easily be put together, but “coincidentally” folks are focused on the family and the book or other details that “coincidentally” aren’t going to lead anyone in the right direction. Here are a couple questions off the top of my head: I’m so curious if you are trying to subtly tie together your explanation of sensory therapy for fears & the abductor’s ‘reason’ for her to stand/walk in the rain (except how could he be sure of a storm the morning of 2/14). It was just so interesting that you mentioned the fears, the therapy used to conquer them, and what she was made to do. And could he have told her the white clothing will help motorists see her, BUT his reason to her was that they wouldn’t run into her (he didn’t tell her he had other motives obviously). And last, I’m just curious if you have any theories as to why. Just simply why her, why this elaborate plan to abduct, why was this so significant to him that he went through the effort then and for the last 15 years? If he’s local and potentially looks the family in the eye week after week for 15 years, that’s hardcore dedication to your conviction that this was necessary. And no other missing persons in the area, just Asha? Did this man have no other victims or was there a reason no other met the exact fate (of at least being kidnapped for 15 years & counting). As you can see, I’m fully enveloped in this case and your blog is incredibly insightful. Don’t worry about those who question details you are absolutely sure of, keep digging until you hit the treasure. You’re doing it for Asha, and she needs you to maintain and proceed. Having to answer why it ‘wasn’t the Mom that did it’ or something as silly is almost feeding into what the abductor always hoped would happen. If anything I said here is not appropriate in any way, please feel free to delete after you read. : )

    Like

    • findingasha says:

      I stumbled upon your blog after hearing about this story tonight (7/11/15). I have not heard of it previously, but I am now 100% intrigued.

      Hi Paulani,

      I’m happy you found my blog; it’s the reason I started it–just trying to get Asha’s story out. I’m not a big name in the way of forensics or psychology (I missed the boat on both). Anyway, Asha’s case intrigued me as well, as it’s very solvable, solely because her world was very small.

      I have studied child development, child psychology, and abnormal psychology, and I am blown away by how you have gotten into the minds of both Asha & abductor.

      Thanks for the compliment, but having to do all that research was the very painful part of compiling the blog, especially while delving into paedophilia, child molestation and other deviant behaviors against children, and the horrifying statistics. Some days I had to ‘give it a rest,’ let it sink in, then start again. Why people do–and say–what they do is the reason I want to be a counselor but geesh….

      Do you know if anyone close to the case has read your blog? Parents? Police? Friends or congregation members?

      I honestly don’t know, but I would hate to upset any member of Asha’s family. I’m sure one day word will spread that way but I am careful not to make horrifyingly visual statements–especially since I can’t be 100% on anything. Perhaps if one of those folks you mentioned did read the blog, a light bulb might come on and allow them to see who might be responsible for her disappearance.

      It’s my opinion that you have established Asha did not run away or go off walking down the road by herself for any reason.

      I’m consulting an expert to cement my belief that Asha could not have made that trek without any outerwear (not to mention, a light). The doctor I really want an opinion from is very busy and promises to get back with me. I don’t want to be a pest to him, but his opinion is very valuable to the very specific point I want to establish.

      I believe the items were absolutely planted and there are a few possibilities as to why the book bag was neatly buried. I know that you are being discreet about certain things, but I’m so curious. I feel like this puzzle can so easily be put together, but “coincidentally” folks are focused on the family and the book or other details that “coincidentally” aren’t going to lead anyone in the right direction.

      Yes, you are very right with me being discreet. Most importantly, is Asha had a very (dare I say extreme?) predictable, regimented, life–certainly stable and quite unusual for these times (even circa 2000). So many constants, so few outsiders and no electronic communication, not even a computer in the home. If I’m not careful, I might unknowingly single out someone I don’t intend to.

      I don’t know if law enforcement is holding back the fact they may or may not have moved beyond that book. I sure do hear a lot from people who don’t know a lot about the case. Many say it’s the catalyst for Asha ‘running away.’ At times I want to scream from the highest mountain: forget the book; no, Dad didn’t try to commit suicide from guilt by having a car wreck; forget the basketball game’s loss; forget ‘grand adventures’ via backpack and on and on and on.

      I’m not trying to be pretentious; I simply never knew how terribly new reports can be mangled, told and retold and it still be all wrong. In my research, Asha’s Tweety Bird pocketbook morphed from lime green to black; it’s such a simple thing but just something I noticed from the same news source.

      Here are a couple questions off the top of my head: I’m so curious if you are trying to subtly tie together your explanation of sensory therapy for fears & the abductor’s ‘reason’ for her to stand/walk in the rain (except how could he be sure of a storm the morning of 2/14).

      The storm itself is very telling: Asha’s disappearance had to be prearranged by someone other than her. Had it been Asha’s idea, she would have put the grand-adventure-run-away-and-hide-whatever off for a better night when she could at least be dry. The rain wasn’t part of the responsible party’s plan–but the date sure was. I don’t believe Asha had it in her mind to do anything but pass off her bookbag or leave it to be picked up. That’s all she would be comfortable doing. She had no clothes on save for her nightgown and sneakers. If she had planned to be out for five minutes, I’m sure she would have had a coat on–especially with the rain.

      The abductor/person responsible didn’t know about cognitive therapy–at all. The rain was an issue that wasn’t planned. So, with the rain, it’s easier for us to see that it’s highly unlikely that Asha would have been out there walking by herself in a torrential downpour (the witness said, “torrential downpour”). This individual needed Asha to be seen by others to solidify the ‘runaway’ theory.

      It was just so interesting that you mentioned the fears, the therapy used to conquer them, and what she was made to do. And could he have told her the white clothing will help motorists see her, BUT his reason to her was that they wouldn’t run into her (he didn’t tell her he had other motives obviously). And last, I’m just curious if you have any theories as to why. Just simply why her, why this elaborate plan to abduct, why was this so significant to him that he went through the effort then and for the last 15 years? If he’s local and potentially looks the family in the eye week after week for 15 years, that’s hardcore dedication to your conviction that this was necessary.

      As I said before, I don’t want to get too specific with people and their relationship to the family. How horrible a vision would that be for a family member to ponder–and then me not be correct! The theories I mentioned obviously aren’t proven, but they are worthy of attention based on research I found most painful. Children are easily manipulated; heck, even very educated, albeit gullible, heartbroken adults lose their life savings to sweetheart type con artists.

      I can’t answer why Asha specifically, but if you go back in history, you’ll find individuals who stalk women and men they don’t even know, someone they’ve stood behind in line at the grocery store. Too, there was the attempted assassination of President Reagan because of John Hinckley Jr’s (the shooter) obsession with actress, Jodie Foster. Hinckley ‘simply’ wanted to impress Foster.

      I know that sounds a bit over the top in relation to a child, but those of us who think clearly can’t fathom the ‘whys’ of these deviants. The more organised a crime, I’ve learned, the more apt they are to look very ordinary, be trusted and they typically don’t stand out.

      And no other missing persons in the area, just Asha? Did this man have no other victims or was there a reason no other met the exact fate (of at least being kidnapped for 15 years & counting).

      It’s very hard getting into the mind of these ‘people,’ as there’s hardly any steadfast data. Criminals in cases like these, I’ve read, are all ages, and there are very few of the same kind of offender (like ‘most are middle-aged, white men with college degrees’ for example); these offenders are all over the board.

      I haven’t happened upon any similar cases, but I haven’t given it much attention, although I’m sure law enforcement is on the lookout. I do believe this case will be solved and my biggest wish is there’s no similar disappearances.

      I’ve had my share of critics but I’m open to said critics’ point of view (and I don’t mean that sarcastically). As I said on the first page of the blog, “There is no greater genius than the collective mind.” I like to write my own quotes based on my mistakes and/or travels, but this one is truest. Even a tidbit of knowledge uttered by the youngest in the room is valuable; it could be the golden nugget needed to get the case solved. I think you mentioned that analogy in your questions, but I redacted it for brevity. Sorry, I can be really wordy after a long day at the keyboard.

      Thanks again and keep the questions coming!

      Like

  2. Annonymous says:

    I agree that this child did not leave on her own. Although in reports her mother states that she and the police believe she left on her own. Wouldn’t a mother know their child better than to think that?

    Like

    • findingasha says:

      Many LE offices deliberately keep crucial info from the public; so, we may never know the extent of ‘left on her own.’ I’m not sure what the parents were told, either. But both parents couldn’t believe Asha would do such a thing such as leave out at night alone, on her own. It’s MY opinion Asha would have only been comfortable staying outside and in arm’s reach of her home. There are too many pieces that don’t make sense; they don’t make sense–and for a reason–because I believe very little about her movement is what happened.

      Liked by 1 person

    • findingasha says:

      I do believe that Asha’s parents were invested in their children’s interests, fears and material needs, so yes, where Mom says she knows her daughter, I believe her. Now, Asha having left ‘on her own’ can–and probably does–mean that she simply stepped out of her home by herself. I don’t believe Asha had any plans to do any more than step outside and go no further than a few feet from the exit. Her clothing alone (the nightgown and sneakers/no coat) support this theory.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: