Shelby, NC

22 Years Ago, A 9-Year-Old Girl Got Up Out Of Bed And Was Never Seen Again

Jeffery Mac

Asha Degree vanished from her home just before dawn on Valentine’s Day in the year 2000. It was a normal night for her family and Her parents had tucked her into bed without issue. And then, After midnight, a nearby car accident left the family’s neighborhood without power. Asha’s father went to check on her and found her still sound asleep.

The events that followed left local police and the FBI at a loss. Asha shared a room with her older brother, O’Bryant. He told investigators he heard her bed squeak in the middle of the night but thought that it was just Asha shifting positions in the middle of the night.

But it was Asha getting up to leave. After packing her backpack with a T-shirt and school library book, Asha stepped outside and walked into the rainy night. This event was supported by witnesses. Two drivers reported seeing her on the side of North Carolina Highway 18 around 4 a.m. One of the drivers even turned around to see if she was okay, but Asha ran off into the woods. Eerily, that was the last witness account of Asha. She has never been seen again.

Asha Jaquilla Degree was born on August 5, 1990, in Shelby, North Carolina. She was raised by two loving and hard-working parents, Harold and Iquilla Degree. Growing up, Asha and her brother never would never stray too far from their apartment. They were latchkey kids who let themselves in after school when their parents were still at work.

Asha’s mother would later explain that her daughter was a highly sensible girl. She lived a studious life as a fourth-grader and enjoyed family outings to church. She was wary of strangers and wouldn’t even pet the local dogs.

This made the circumstances of her disappearance all the more baffling. 

Despite getting help from the FBI, North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation, the Motel William’s Show, and Oprah Winfrey herself, Asha has still never been found. The police have even gone through over 300 tips and nothing has panned out. 

In 2020, an inmate at a North Carolina state correctional facility contacted The Shelby Star. He was saying he had heard someone talking about killing and burying her. Investigators interviewed him and another inmate, but it was yet another tip that turned up no new information.

“You take all information received extremely serious, and we run it to the very end regardless of who provides that information,” Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman said.

To this day, Asha’s mother still holds out hope that they’ll find her daughter alive.

“That’s my prayer every night, that God will get into their heart and let them come forward, because it’s got to be a weight on them,” Iquilla Degree said in 2020. “We’re hoping and we’re praying that she’s had a halfway decent life even though we didn’t get to raise her. She was nine years old, and she’ll be 30 this year.”

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Writer focusing on unsolved cases and missing persons of color.

Hicksville, NY

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