$45,000 reward for info in disappearance of Shelby girl missing 15 years

Published: Feb. 9, 2015 at 3:11 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2015 at 2:53 PM EDT
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SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the person responsible in the disappearance of a 9-year-old Shelby girl 15 years ago. A community group is offering an additional reward of $20,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.

The reward is now $45,000 for any information that will lead to an arrest to Asha Degree's disappearance.

"People are crazy about money," Business Community Member James Hutchis said. "Yeah, that could be an incentive."

Law Enforcement hopes that amount will make a difference. Sheriff Alan Norman believes the community holds the key.

"This has went on quite some time," the sheriff said. "And I am sure there is someone out there that has information that is extremely vital to this case, and we want you to come forward to bring closure for this family who has suffered for this long period of time."

February 14, marks the 15th anniversary of the day Asha Degree went missing. People in the community still remember that awful day.

"My dad came home," Community Neighbor Sara Frye said. "And he told me that there was a little girl missing."

FBI went door to door Monday to pass out flyers to businesses. They wanted the businesses to hang the flyers up to remind the community Asha is still missing.

"It shows determination for sure," Frye said. "And they are not going to give up until they have answers. I wouldn't give up if it was my daughter."

For the past 14 years, her family has retraced the steps they believe she took the night she disappeared from her Cleveland County home. \

FBI agents, Cleveland County investigators, and the State Bureau of Investigation agents say they are re-examining every aspect of the case and re-interviewing witnesses. They also say since technology has advanced, law enforcement will that to their advantage. They may take another look at the Degree's bookbag that was found.

"We are going to go back through many pieces of evidence," FBI Shelley Lynch said. "And potentially send more to the lab to be reexamined."

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released a new age progression picture of what Asha could look like today, at age 24. Nobody knows why Asha left her home in 2000, but her family says they haven't given up hope that they will be reunited with Asha someday.

"Continue to pray for us because we do believe that she is still alive. We're still looking for a person to walk in and we know that one day we will see her again," said Asha's mother, Iquilla Degree.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 704-672-6100.

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