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    NC - Asha Jaquilla Degree (9) - Shelby NC, 2000

    Missing Since: February 14, 2000 from Shelby, North Carolina
    Classification: Endangered Missing
    Date Of Birth: August 5, 1990
    Age: 9 years old
    Height and Weight: 4'6, 60 pounds
    Distinguishing Characteristics: African-American female. Black hair, brown eyes. Degree may style her hair in pigtails.
    Clothing/Jewelry Description: Possibly a white shirt, white jeans and white tennis shoes.

    Details of Disappearance

    Degree resided with her family in an apartment on Oakcrest Street in Shelby, North Carolina in 2000. She was last seen inside her home at approximately 2:30 a.m. on February 14, 2000. Degree's father went to sleep at that time and told authorities his daughter was in her bed when he checked on her. Degree shared a room with her brother, who stated that he heard noises during the early morning hours and assumed his sister was tossing in her sleep. Degree's mother went into her room at approximately 6:30 a.m. to wake her children for school and discovered Degree was not in her bed. The family immediately summoned authorities and an extensive search of the surrounding area was initialized, with no result. Degree has never been heard from again.

    Two motorists reported seeing her walking south on Highway 18 north of Shelby at approximately 4:00 a.m. Degree was apparently near the intersection of Highway 180 at the time. She left the highway at this point and walked off into the darkness. It was the last confirmed sighting of the child.

    Investigators believe that Degree left her residence of her own accord. She is described as being quiet, shy person and a good student with a happy home life and her reasons for leaving are unknown. Degree's basketball team lost a game shortly before her disappearance and her family said she was upset over the loss, but was feeling better on the day she vanished. Degree's class read the book The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman in February 2000. The book centers around the story of a prince and a commoner child who receives lashes on the royal's behalf. The children proceed to run away and the book details their adventures. Both boys return safely to the kingdom at the story's end. It is not known if the book served as a catalyst for Degree's disappearance.

    Degree's black book bag and black Tweety Bird purse were missing from her room after her disappearance, along with a pair of blue jeans with a red stripe, black shoes, a long-sleeved white shirt with purple lettering, and black overalls. All the doors to the house were found locked; Degree kept her house key in the bookbag.

    Degree's pencil, marker and Mickey Mouse hair bow were discovered in the doorway of a tool shed at Turner's Upholstery on Highway 18 on February 17, 2000, three days after her disappearance. Her belongings were found near the stretch of road where Degree was seen walking in the early morning hours of February 14. A search of the area failed to produce additional evidence. The items were discovered more than one mile from Degree's residence.

    A contractor uncovered Degree's book bag, which has her name and telephone number written on it, approximately 50 yards from Highway 18 in August 2001, 18 months after she disappeared. The item had been double-wrapped in black plastic bags and was found more than 26 miles from her family's home. Authorities have never released the contents of the bag, but it reportedly contained Degree's name on a piece of paper, clothing and a pencil case. Nearby some animal bones and a pair of men's khaki pants were found. In October of that year, a plastic trash bag similar to the one Asha's bookbag was wrapped in was found. The bag was sent to a police lab for analysis.

    Investigators announced that they considered Degree's disappearance to be a criminal matter and foul play was suspected after the bookbag's discovery. The surrounding area was thoroughly searched afterwards, but additional evidence was reportedly not located. A photo of some of Degree's personal items is posted below this case summary.

    In 2004, authorities dug at the corner of Shelby and Rube Spangler roads near Lawndale, South Carolina, looking for Degree's remains. They found some bones, but they turned out to be from animals. No evidence relating to Degree's case was located during the search. Her case remains unsolved.

    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Cleveland County Sheriff's Office

    Charley Project

  2. #2
    Last edited by KateB; 06-20-2015 at 02:20 PM. Reason: repair url tag.

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