Cleveland County Sheriff, investigators remain committed to case 20 years after Asha Degree’s disappearance

Cleveland County Sheriff, investigators remain committed to case 20 years after Asha Degree’s disappearance

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A total of 20 years have passed since someone last saw Asha Degree. The 9-year-old is believed to have left her Cleveland County home in the early hours of the morning. She was last spotted walking along Highway 18.

In 2015, the case was re-examined from top to bottom with the sheriff’s office teaming up with the FBI and North Carolina SBI.

“I’m not crazy enough to think that a 9-year-old could disappear into thin air,” Asha Degree’s mother, Iquilla Degree, told the FBI in a video they shared Friday.

Investigators held a media briefing on the 20th anniversary to share their continued efforts to crack this case.

“It’s time for the truth to be revealed and it’s time for her family to have the answers they deserve," Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman said.

Throughout the years they found clues, including her backpack with a t-shirt and book inside of it. The items did not belong to Degree.

They also released photos of potential suspect vehicles, but none of this led to any arrests. In 2020, investigators are still pushing for progress.

“There are a lot of things we could do in an investigation today that we couldn’t do 20 years ago,” FBI Public Information Officer Shelley Lynch said.

Experts from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children used photos from her childhood, and of her family members to create a new age-progressed photo.

“There’s always hopes that she’s still alive and we do have leads to that effect,” Cleveland County Sherrif’s Detective Tim Adams said.

Detective Adams came out of retirement to work this case with the sheriff’s office, FBI and SBI.

Several of them, including Sheriff Norman were working on Feb. 14, 2000.

“She went missing under my watch, and I want her brought back home under my watch," Sheriff Norman said.

He has a message for someone in the community who he is confident knows something.

“You’re carrying the burden and you’ve carried it for 20 years and I want you to contact me personally to relieve yourself of that burden and let’s bring Asha home,” he said.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.