The Unsolved Disappearance Of Asha Degree (2000) - Shreya Sachdev
DISCLAIMER: No disrespect is intended towards anyone that I talk about on this blog post. This blog post is for educational purposes and is being posted on this website in order to raise awareness about this case and to truly hope that the grieving families and friends of these victims find closure and finally find out what happened to their loved one(s). I have gathered all this information on the internet, but unfortunately I do not know how accurate or inaccurate it is. If I have made a mistake somewhere, then I apologize. It is not my intention to spread false information.
Asha Degree was born on the 5th of August in 1990 in Shelby, North Carolina to Harold and Iquilla Degree who married two years prior to Asha's birth on Valentine's Day with is unfortunately also the day that Asha would eventually disappear. Asha had a brother named O'Bryant and both children had a very sheltered upbringing. They were not allowed to watch TV especially the news because their parents believed that the news was too negative. They also weren't allowed to be very social or to go out a lot.
By 2000, Asha was 9 years old and in the fourth grade. Due to the fact that she was grown up in a very sheltered upbringing, Asha was very timid and extremely shy. She was always polite but quite cautious and more than happy to stay in the social boundaries that her parents had set for he.
On the 12th of February, Asha's parents were working and so Asha and her brother were staying with their aunt. When the afternoon came, Asha's aunt took both Asha and her brother to school for their basketball practice since they both played basketball and had games the next day at Burns Middle School. Asha was regarded as the star of the team and the best player on her team. Unfortunately, on the day of the match, Asha had an injured leg and could not play and the team had their first loss in the entire season. Asha ended up blaming herself for this because she felt as if she had let her teammates down. However, by the time her brother's game came, she was seen to be laughing and having fun with her teammates and was perfectly fine.
On the 13th of February, Asha's aunt took Asha and her brother to the church and then they returned back to Asha's aunt's house for lunch where they also received some Valentine's Day candy. Later in the evening, Asha's aunt dropped Asha and her brother back to their home where they returned to their mother. Asha's father was busy working his night shift and so only Asha's mother was home. When Asha got home, she was completely fine and got ready for bed. She put her night gown on and her mother fixed her two braids. Asha and O'Bryant shared the same room and went to bed at the same time.
That night, there was a storm coming as well as a car crash and so all the power was out. However, it was back at around 12:30 when Harold got back home. When Harold got back home, it was officially February 14th which was the day of his wedding anniversary but unfortunately also the day that his daughter would disappear. When Harold got home, the first thing he did was check on his children in their bedroom and saw that they were both sound asleep. At around 2:30am, he checked on them again and saw that they were still fast asleep.
The next morning, at around 5:30am, Iquilla woke up to give both of her children a bath since they couldn't take a shower last night due to the power gong out. This was a time that was a little bit earlier for Iquilla to wake up at but since her children hadn't bathed the night before and because it was her anniversary, she decided to wake up early. When Iquilla woke up, she went to her children's' room and saw that O'Bryant was still sleeping but that Asha was not in her bed. Iquilla didn't want to panic right away as she believed that it was possible that Asha was somewhere in the house or was possibly in the bathroom. Iquilla went to have a look around the house many times but unfortunately Asha was nowhere to be found. When Iquilla went searching for Asha and couldn't find her, she immediately went to go find Harold and tell him that Asha was missing. Harold decided to call Asha's aunt to ask her if by any chance Asha was there, but Asha's aunt simply told them that Asha was not with her. This is when Harold decided to call the police. By 6:48am, police had arrived at the house.
Police brought sniffer dogs with them which were unfortunately no help at this stage due to the storm the night before. Rain is actually meant to bring out a scent more but when rain is mixed with wind, it is much more difficult for dogs to locate smell and figure out where the smell is coming from. By 7:00am, many of the neighbors had woken up and were helping Iquilla and Harold search for Asha on the streets of their house.
Unfortunately, neighbors or Asha's parents were able to locate Asha. Along with this, police searched the house and were not able to find any evidence or anything of suspicion: there was no forced entry or any blood. Police also helped search surrounding areas and found absolutely nothing except for one mitten but Asha's mom clearly stated that the mitten did not belong to Asha because she had never seen it before.
Soon, police would realize that a couple of Asha's items were missing. The items that were missing were a backpack, a notebook with an image of Tweety Bird in the front, a pair of pants, a pair of sneakers, and a t-shirt. Since these specific items were missing with the fact that there was no forced entry, police theorized that Asha had left on her own. Not only do police theorize that Asha left on her own, but police also believe that this was a planned runaway and that Asha had been planning to leave on this specific night. However, absolutely nobody knows or understands why on earth Asha would want to leave her house in the middle of the night considering that she was an extremely shy and sheltered 9 year old girl. Asha's parents stated that they couldn't think of any reason that Asha left on her own especially because she was deathly afraid of storms, the dark, and dogs.
By the evening of the 14th of February, police and Asha's family had spread the news of Asha's disappearance all over the media to try and get some witness statements or any information from the media that could help solve Asha's case and could help figure out where she was. Iquilla decided to use this to her advantage and pleaded for anybody who had Asha to bring her back or for anybody who had any information about her to tell them immediately.
Two witnesses came forward later that evening and told the police that they had seen a girl matching Asha's description on Highway 18 (this route was taken by Asha's school bus on the way to school and so it was familiar to her) two more witnesses came forward (one motorist and one truck driver) and they both stated that they saw Asha heading south to Shelby on Highway 18 between 3:30am and 4.15am. From the route she was taking, it was theorized that she was heading into town since she was walking away from her parent's house to town. The witness sightings were all proved to be true since the outfit they described her wearing that night correlated with the items that were missing from her house.
One truck driver told police that he was concerned when he saw her and that he made a u-turn to go and speak to her. When his truck approached her and he rolled down the windows to ask if she was okay, she completely freaked out and ran into the woods which were down the highway. This is the last confirmed sighting of Asha. However, three days after Asha's disappearance, police found a shed (near Highway 18) which was filled with furniture and tractors and other things meant for business. But, they also found a green marker, a pencil, and a Mickey Mouse hair bow. Police immediately began to search the area and found candy wrappers which they were able to connect to the kind of candy all the girls in Asha's basketball team received the day before Valentine's Day. It has been theorized that Asha went inside of this shed to get away from the storm but it has also been theorized that Asha was taken inside of the shed.
It wasn't until the 3rd of August in 2001 when police would get their first step of evidence ever since the shed. 26 miles from the shed along Highway 18, Asha's backpack was discovered. A man who lived near the area was cleaning things up when he came across a garbage bag. Inside the garbage bag, he found another garbage back that had something else inside. When he opened the second garbage bag, he found a backpack that had Asha's name and Asha's phone number written inside it. At the time that this man discovered the backpack, he didn't know anything of the case but still chose to write down Asha's name and her phone number just because he had a really bad feeling about it since this was a strange place to find a little girl's backpack and the entire circumstance was extremely strange. The next morning at breakfast, this man told his wife about the backpack, the name, and the phone number, and his wife had heard about the case and recognized the name so she immediately called the police. When police arrived, they found no evidence around the area except for the backpack and never released the items that were found inside of the backpack. Officials however, did say that because of this backpack's discovery and its circumstance, some sort of foul play was most definitely involved.
In May 2016, FBI released that they had new information from a new witness that had come forward to speak about the case. They had seen a girl matching Asha's description get into a dark green car on Highway 18 the night that Asha disappeared. The vehicle is now a vehicle of interest but the vehicle has never been found, probably since it's been 17 years since Asha's disappearance.
1. The first theory is that Asha was sleepwalking. The theory goes that as Asha was sleepwalking, she got dressed and packed her bag and then exited the door. Some time between her waking up and her ending up on Highway 18, she woke up.
2. The second theory is that Asha chose to leave on her own. The biggest evidence supporting this theory is of course Asha's backpack. Police believe that Asha packed her backpack specifically for where she was going and packed it because she knew she would be gone for some time. This, however, leads people to ask police why Asha would have left on her own and police have no answer for this. It has been said that in Asha's class, a book about adventure and running away was being read and so it is possible that from this book, Asha was inspired and decided to explore the nighttime by herself considering she had a very sheltered lifestyle. However, experts say that it would typically take more than a book for a child to run away from home. Along with this, she was very afraid of the dark, dogs, and storms.
3. The third theory is that Asha was lured into leaving. The theory goes that overtime, somebody got close to Asha and convinced her to meet him/her at 3:00am at a specific spot. However, many people do not believe this theory since Asha had a very sheltered upbringing and she was very shy around strangers.
Which theory do I believe?
If there is one case that I absolutely 100% know what happened, then it is this one. I believe the third theory. I completely believe that overtime, somebody who Asha knew from school (maybe a bus driver or a cleaner) got to know Asha and as months passed, Asha began to put her trust into whoever this person was. When Valentine's Day came around, this person convinced Asha for them to have a little date at this time since Asha told them that she couldn't stay longer due to the fact that it was her parent's anniversary. Thus, Asha got up on February 14th planned for her departure. She packed her backpack and she put her clothes on (she wore white because the person that lured her told her that she had to wear white so she could easily be spotted) and then Asha took off. When the truck driver asked Asha if she was okay, Asha's worst nightmare came true since she was already very hesitant to do this in the first place. Asha freaked out and ran to the woods where she calmed herself down but realized that she couldn't do this anymore. She stayed in the shed alone until she walked around for a little bit and came across somebody (who wasn't the person that lured her) and this person did not have the best of intentions and kidnapped her. Thus, if Asha's abductor is ever found, nobody will ever know the actual person that lured Asha into coming out in the first place. The reason I believe this is because we have to look at the circumstances of this case: 3:00am in a horrible storm. It takes real courage for somebody (even a grown up) to walk for that long. The only way that somebody would do this is if they had true affection or true admiration for the person that made them do it. Thus, I'm 100% sure that Asha was lured into coming out at night, but Asha and the person that lured her never met that night. I would've believed the theory that Asha wanted an adventure and so she took off on her own but the fact that she freaked out when somebody asked her if she was okay is proof that she is simply not courageous enough to do something like this. The only reason that Asha left her house at 3:00am in a storm was because she was lured into it. I do believe that Asha is still alive.
Bibliography & Credit: Fiori, Bella, director. THE BIZARRE DISAPPEARANCE OF ASHA DEGREE. YouTube, YouTube, 22 May 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jQvpgNAiIU.