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Asha Degree, 9, disappears on Valentine’s Day

by Nancy Grace, Publisher

New details and possibly a new witness have emerged in the troubling case of a beautiful little girl, 9-year-old, Asha Degree.   Asha vanished from Shelby, North Carolina, and the FBI is asking for help to identify a car that could very well crack the case of missing Asha.

Sixteen long years have passed since the 9-year-old seemingly disappeared into thin air. Just before she went missing, Asha was seen walking along Highway 18, only a t10-minute walk away, just a mile from her family’s Shelby home.

Her father last saw Asha asleep in bed at 2:30 a.m., on the morning of February 14, 2000. Hours later, a driver spotted her walking down North Carolina Highway 18 in Shelby, not far from her home.

School supplies identified as belonging to the little girl were discovered in a barn shortly after she went missing.  Twenty miles from her home, Asha’s school book bag was also found, sixteen months later.  The book bag had been wrapped in trash bags and buried.

New details about the car that could have picked her up have developed when a “new witness” came forward.

FBI Spokesperson Shelley Lynch revealed, “They believe they may have seen someone matching Asha’s description get into a distinctive vehicle the morning she was seen walking on Highway 18 in the Shelby area,” revealed FBI Spokesperson Shelley Lynch.

An FBI poster now features age progression photos and pictures of cars like the one the witness has described: a dark green, 1970s Lincoln Mark IV or Ford Thunderbird with rust visible around the wheel well.  The FBI also re-organized the case and is re-examining files, putting a new team of detectives in place to work the case.

“We do believe that she’s still alive,” her mom says.  Both parents still believe she is alive and still regularly retrace what they think may have been her last known route.

“She’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind when I go to sleep at night. She’s my child,” Asha’s mom continued. I will never give up on her. I will never forget about her, and if we don’t keep hope and keep her name out why would anybody else do it.”

There is a $25,000 reward for information related to Asha’s disappearance.

If you know anything about Asha’s disappearance the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office asks you to please contact them at (704) 484-4822.

[Photo: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children]

An outspoken, tireless advocate for victims’ rights and one of television's most respected legal analysts, Nancy Grace was the powerful force behind CNN Headline News’ (HLN) top-rated Nancy Grace. A former prosecutor with an unparalleled record of success, she has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil and Larry King Live, among others, dispensing her firebrand take on the modern justice system. She is the New York Times bestselling author of four books and the executive producer of a on-going series of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films based on the characters from her novels.  In 2011, Grace was named one of the most impactful and powerful women in entertainment by both leading industry trade magazines, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Now, everything important in Grace’s life – including her unwavering crusade for true justice – comes back to family. Since her marriage and the birth of her children, Nancy says, “I feel even more passionate about fighting for victims.” Nancy Grace, her husband and her twins reside in Atlanta and New York City with their rescue pets, a dog and a cat.