SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - It has been 17 years since 9-year-old Asha Degree disappeared from her home near Highway 18 between Fallston and Shelby. Investigators have never stopped working the case, says Sheriff Alan Norman.
"This is not a cold case," Norman said.
In fact, he added, progress has been made, though he could not comment further on that. To help turn that progress into solid answers, a special FBI team has joined the effort.
The Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team will be in Cleveland County for the next few weeks to re-interview people in the area and look for new people who may have information.
They are asking anyone with any information - even if it seems trivial - to speak up.
"Now is the time to come forward," said FBI Special Agent John Strong.
They are hoping that over the years people may have heard something in casual conversation that might be a piece to the puzzle.
Asha Degree was reported missing by her parents on Valentine's Day, 2000, around 4 a.m. They noticed the girl was not in her bed and a quick search outside turned up nothing. Authorities learned later that a few drivers along Highway 18 spotted who they thought was a little girl walking south. Search teams on foot came up empty.
A year and a half later, the girl's book bag was found miles away in Burke County just a few feet off of Highway 18 in deep weeds.
The FBI and Sheriff's office are urging anyone with information to call the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office or the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL FBI.
A combined reward from the FBI and the community is now at $45,000 in the case.
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