What Happened To Asha Degree?

(Asha Degree. Picture credit: missingkids.org)

This heartbreaking case has been a mystery for 21 years and still Asha Degree's parents are no closer to knowing what really happened to their little girl. Somebody out there knows something and they've left this poor family to grieve for this adorable girl and l imagine many sleepless nights have been had by all of those that knew Asha. The constant questions going over and over in their minds, is she still alive? Did somebody abduct her? I can imagine it must be torturous and too much to bare. It's always hard to lose a child to illness but to have a child stolen from you and you have no idea what happened to them, that is a wound that can never heal. 

I've been thinking a lot about Asha and her family these past few days of doing my research and when I first found out how long it had been since she disappeared, I was in shock. I didn't know about this case up until recently I'm sad to say but I felt it was important to share Asha's story. I am glad to see that various True Crime channels, blogs and podcasts have covered the case and helped raise awareness. 

I mentioned recently that I aim to write about more missing persons cases and my next two true crime posts are very much in that vein. In this post I want to talk about Asha, I hope it leads you to read more about the case or share whatever information posters or this blog post on your social media, there is that chance that somebody out there might see or hear something and be prompted to act and call the police with information.

Before I begin, I just want to remind you that all of my social media links are here, if you enjoy my weekly content and would like to make a donation, you can do so here, thank you. 

So let's begin....

Asha was born to Harold and Iquilla Degree on the 5th of August 1990 in Shelby, North Carolina, she also had an older brother that she was close to. Both of the Degree children were sporty and had a very sheltered upbringing, their parents were very careful not to have a computer in the house for fear that the children would become victims of online predators. Iquilla later said in an interview that she would often turn on the news to hear a report that someone from an online chatroom had abducted and murdered someone's child so she wouldn't allow a computer in the house. 

The Degree family were very close and the children spent a lot of time with their relatives. Both Asha and her brother had their own key to the family home. Harold and Iquilla were both hardworking parents and would often still be working when the kids finished school so they gave them both keys to let themselves into the house.

When both of the children would arrive home they would usually get started on their homework or fix some dinner for themselves. It probably sounds a little unusual to some people for children of the ages of nine and ten to be unsupervised in this manner but this is just how some families were back then and because of where they lived they didn't think there would be an issue. I know from my own personal experience I was often left to my own devices at at young age but I was very careful to make sure that I had a friend with me and would keep to public places, lock doors behind me, that sort of thing. 

As I mentioned before, both children were sporty and Asha was very bright and switched on for her age. She would take her participation in her school's basketball team very seriously and shortly before she went missing, she had felt a little disheartened that her team had lost their game. Reflecting back on this incident, her parents said that she was a little upset at the time, as was her team mates but she eventually perked up and cheered on her brother's match shortly afterwards.

The day after the basketball matches, the family attended church on the Sunday of the 13th of February 2000 as they usually did. There was no incidences or anything unusual with Asha going on. Everyone seemed fine and returned home as they normally would after their morning worship as a family. 

On the Sunday night the children went to bed around 8pm as was their usual routine. Asha (9) and her brother O'Bryant (10) both shared a bedroom. There was a powercut in the neighbourhood due to a car accident but the power came back on just shortly after midnight. Harold did a quick check on the kids to make sure they were both ok and asleep in their beds, which they were. At some point in the early hours of the morning, Asha's brother, O'Bryant later reported that he heard Asha stirring in her sleep but he didn't fully wake up himself, he just assumed she was turning in her bed. He couldn't see her as he was drifting in and out of sleep himself at this point but he does remember hearing her.

Around 2am, Harold checked on the kids again and found them both fast asleep in their beds, nothing untoward. 

As the clock approached 4am on the 14th of February 2000 (Valentine's Day which was also Harold and Iquilla's wedding anniversary), little nine year old Asha got up out of her bed, put some clothes (white t-shirt with white trousers) on and picked up a little rucksack she had packed previously with some clothing inside and other items. Nobody knows why but the little girl took off out into the street on a cold, rainy February morning. 

Several motorists saw the little image walking along the road in the pouring rain and wondered why a young child would be out there alone in that weather at that hour of the morning. A male motorist who was genuinely concerned decided to try and approach Asha to see what was going on and maybe help her get back safely to her family. The little girl saw the car coming nearer and remember what her parents always told her about staying away from strangers, she shot off into the wooded area next to the road and was out of sight. The man made a report to the police about what he'd seen when Asha was reported missing on the local news. 

This was the last known sighting of little Asha, she just went into those woods never to be seen again. 

Iquilla got up a few hours later on that same morning, ready to celebrate her anniversary with her husband and getting ready to sort the children out for the day ahead, getting a bath ready for them. When she opened the bedroom door to wake up the kids, Asha was nowhere to be found. The family frantically searched the other rooms in the house, the cars, the area outside, shouting her name out and woke up the neighbours but it was understandable in such a terrifying moment. This was a moment that Harold and Iquilla had always feared, had always done their best to avoid. They worked so hard and did everything they felt in their power to keep their children safe and now that had happened and they were beside themselves.

The police were contacted straight away and the family wasted no time searching for Asha. They'd seen the news reports in the past, they knew how these horrible abduction stories went, they knew it was a race against time to try and find her and hoped within hope that she'd just wandered off somewhere and would be found safe and well. 

I don't have children myself but I can imagine being a parent can be quite a frightening job at times, with all the dangers of the world and sometimes children having the tendency to wander off. I had a habit of doing this as a child and I caused mayhem when I was a toddler. There was an incident where I managed to get into the garden of my family home and climb over the gate. I wandered all the way down to a little lake. My parents, family and the police were looking for me and eventually my sister found me just as I was about to get into the water (I couldn't swim). Another time, I wandered out of school (my Dad lived nearby and I saw my brother out on his bike) and ran after my brother, all hell broke loose and the police called. There were a lot of incidents like this where I would wander off and I didn't really think about what I was doing but I knew to stay away from strangers. I was a strange child and it just got me thinking how scary it must be for a parent to have those moments. 

A thorough search of where Asha was last seen and surrounding areas was carried out, eventually they found a Mickey Mouse hair bow, a marker pen, a pencil and some candy wrappers (the candy wrappers were confirmed to be hers as her team mates had been given the same candy previously). These items were all confirmed to be Asha's but there was no trace of the little girl. Information posters were handed out and posted up everywhere, regular news reports were broadcasted and searches continued. The police had 300 leads but nothing substantial.

A week later, the search was ended as investigators felt that they'd covered every possible area and still came up with no proper clues, even the police dogs could not pick up a scent. The search seemed to be going nowhere. Even though the search was halted, the police insisted that the case was still ongoing and a reward was issued to the public for information relating to Asha's disappearance.

It was originally thought that Asha had chosen to run away because she had packed her bag beforehand but this theory has often been disputed, Some people believe that she was going to meet someone at the area she was last seen, others believe she was abducted and that was why the dogs couldn't pick up a scent during the search.

The Degree family did not give up searching for their daughter and did what they could to bring more attention to the case and appeal for information from the public. They appeared on various high profile TV shows including Oprah and Montel. 

A strange development in the case occurred a year after Asha went missing, the rucksack was found by a construction worker buried under some land in Burke county (26 miles north of Shelby). The bag was wrapped in plastic and the police did not reveal what the bag contained or any other details relating to it until the 20th anniversary of her disappearance. The police revealed to the public for the first time that the bag contained two items, a New Kids On The Block t-shirt and a Dr. Seuss book which were said to have not belonged to Asha but the book was from her school. 

In the years that followed, the police continued to follow up any leads but they all came to nothing including a possible remains site which they investigated but the bones were identified as being those of an animal. 

(Asha's parents, Harold & Iquilla have never given up hope that Asha will be found and they believe that she is still alive. Picture credit: hermoments)

Asha's family have never stopped looking for her and they set up a scholarship in her name, a billboard was set up near to where she was last seen and a reward of $25,000 plus an additional $20,000 has been set up for anyone who comes forward with information that will be of huge significance. 

The police announced in 2016 that a vehicle in the style of a 1970s Lincoln Continental Mark IV in the shade dark green was of some interest to them along with a Ford Thunderbird. 

Asha's family believe that her case has not been given proper media coverage because Asha is African American. I'm hoping that Netflix will contact the family at some point and arrange for a documentary to be made to help get Asha's story out there. The other sad factor about these types of cases which occurred a certain number of years ago is that sometimes (sadly but not deliberately) members of the public forget and it's not that they don't care, there's just so many of these heartbreaking stories happening around the world everyday, even happening as we speak. So I feel it's important never to give up and to never stop sharing Asha's story. 

Do I think she ran away? She was just nine years old and I'm not psychic but my guess was that she fancied going on a little adventure? It's hard for me to say but what we do know is that she planned to leave for whatever reason and she'd packed a bag beforehand.

Maybe she did want to run away and then realised she didn't want to go through with it but someone managed to get a hold of her? The theories go on an on about this case.

Another huge development on the case came recently in 2020 when an imprisoned convicted paedophile by the name of Marcus Mellon wrote to a local newspaper claiming to know what happened to Asha and where she is. This apparently all came about in November of 2020 and at the time of me writing this, it is May of 2021. The police are still looking into this man's claims so who knows what the outcome will be but this is where we currently are with this case. I will update when I hear any more news.

If you know of any information, however small, please contact: 704 484 4788 or 704 672 6100. 

Thinking of Asha and her family x

Further Reading & Sources:

Asha Degree | FBI

Asha Degree Article | The Star

Asha Degree | Wikipedia

Asha Degree | Reddit Discussion Thread

Asha Degree | The Charley Project

Asha Degree News Report | WBTV

Asha Degree | FBI (Video)

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest case. Please subscribe to my blog to ensure you don't miss any of my true crime posts  x


  1. That is one of the most heartbreaking case I ever read. So many questions are left up in the air. I feel for the family. I hope that there will find the truth and closure about what was happening to Asha. My thought are with Asha and her family ! Thank you so much for sharing the case of Asha Jo Xxx

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I hope the same for Asha's family x

  2. As a parent this is a truly horrific nightmare to have to live through. To lose a child with no answers and no reason is ultimately the most heartbreaking thing a family can endure. I pray that some clue will come forthwith and give the family some answers they so rightfully deserve. This was a powerful and incredible true crime story and I hope that someone reading this might now something and contact the authorities. 🙏🏼❤

    1. I hope so too! Thank you so much as always for your comments for taking the time to read my latest case x

  3. Wow what a interesting case this was to read and also heartbreaking I can imagine what asha family is going through as a parent this is truly horrible and horrendous and horrific what happened to her this case was a very powerful and a very sad case to read and an incredible true crime story buy Jo I truly hope that the family or police can discover where she is or hope that someone reading this story might know something and can contact the right people thank you so much for sharing this touching story ❤️❤️❤️