The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 5 – Asha Degree

February 14, 2000. Shelby, North Carolina. The parents of nine-year old Asha Degree wake up to discover that she has vanished from her bedroom. After she is reported missing, witnesses come forward to report having seen Asha walk down the highway earlier that morning. This seems to indicate that she voluntarily left her home in the middle of the night for unknown reasons. Eighteen months later, Asha’s book bag is found buried 26 miles away, but she is still nowhere to be found. In this week’s minisode of “The Trail Went Cold”, I examine one of the most baffling and unusual missing children’s cases of recent memory.

Please check out the Charley Project profile page for Asha Degree, which contains her vital statistics, age-progressed photographs, and contact info for the proper authorities should you happen to have any information:

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

16 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 5 – Asha Degree

  • Thank you so much for covering this case! From the first time I ever heard of it on Reddit, I haven’t forgotten it. It’s heartbreaking and so very strange. Wendy’s site is amazing… I hope someone will come forward with some info that will solve the case. The family needs closure.

    Great episode and thanks for the shout out! 😀

  • So quick input: does anyone think that the house keys found with her backpack could be a potential answer/clue? Maybe the perp somehow had her house keys (she lost them, for example) which is why it didn’t look like a break-in, the doors were locked, etc. And it was someone she knew so she wasn’t too scared when the perp came to get her? What do you think?

    • Wow, that’s an interesting possibility I never even thought of. The only problem with the idea of an abduction from the home is the fact that the book bag was filled with Asha’s clothes, suggesting she packed it herself and left. Even if an intruder convinced Asha to pack it before they left, I’m not sure they could have done so without waking up her brother.

  • Yeah that is true. But let’s say that the backpack was packed well before bedtime either either by Asha as a suggestion from the kidnapper or by the kidnapper him/herself that was a visitor of the house. She got up to go to the bathroom at 2:30 am, and never actually came back in the room – the kidnapper did to grab her backpack which is what her brother heard (or when she left for the bathroom she saw the kidnapper who told her to grab her backpack – probably more likely). The kidnapper, someone Asha knows, assures her that it’s an adventure and takes her with her backpack outside, locks up, and leaves. All of this makes it look as though Asha ran away. The only thing that’s unexplained from there is Asha walking next to the highway, but perhaps she escaped the car somehow, but was lost, and was trying to find her way home by walking next to the highway and when she saw the one car bolted into the woods thinking it was her kidnapper. From there, the kidnapper unfortunately found her again.

    Also, quick thing that has nothing to do with solving it, but why in the hell did the witnesses not at least call in to the police the fact that a little girl was walking ALONE at 4 in the morning next to the highway?!?! By 2000 kids knew not to talk to strangers (I was Asha’s age at the time and that certainly was drilled into my head) but even then if I were driving at 4 in the morning and I saw a 9 year old child walking alone, because I know I’m a good person I would definitely insist that the kid come with me so I could take them home!! And if they didn’t listen I would call the police and make sure to monitor where the child was going so I knew no harm would come to them. I know everyone thinks they’re going to be a hero until the moment something actually happens but sheesh I can’t imagine letting a child walk alone on an dark, rainy, early morning…

    • Yes, the motorist who circled around to try and help her had the right idea, but it’s strange he didn’t contact the police after she ran off into the woods and instead of waiting until after the media reported Asha’s disappearance later that day.

  • It would be good to know how far she had walked from home on her own, and what sort of mood she appeared to be in while walking, and exactly how the double-wrapped bag was buried.

    Presuming she had no history of extreme sleepwalking, I agree she could have left home for some special purpose, compelling enough to not consider the weather, either entirely of her own volition or due to someone encouraging her.

    I’m not sure if the bag was meant to be discovered quickly but it was certainly meant to be preserved, kind of like a time capsule, which I think suggests someone with some conscience. The perpetrator may have been a construction worker who planted the evidence, perhaps to enjoy its discovery, and maybe as a sick birthday present to Asha and her parents.

    I suppose if the construction site was for a residential building that is kind of like a very cowardly returning of Asha.

    I think if you’re taking a child and later returning their belongings to a house as if that makes some sort of difference, you’re probably quite unique in some very negative respects.

    • Never thought about the possibility that a construction worker might have planted the bag. There had to be some significance to the fact that they chose that particular site 26 miles from her home. I wonder if the police looked into everyone who was working at that location at the time.

  • Perhaps someone lured her out of the house by saying that they were going to camp out in the woods, and that she could still go to school as they would be quite close. The person also told her not to tell her parents and that is was their secret. Of course, this scenario would suggest that the perpetrator was someone she knew.

    • I agree with Camden22. I always believed she was lured out of her home to meet someone, maybe using her interest in The Whipping Boy. Of course, it would be very dangerous for the perpetrator. But maybe he didn’t intend to kill her, and something went wrong. Or he boldly groomed her with intent to abuse\kidnap her. It’s the only thing that make sense to me. I think otherwise a 9 years old girl would be terrified to leave home alone in the middle of the night. The incitative would have to be very strong, and since she reportedly had no serious problems at home, I can see nothing else.

    • Thinking Sideways just released their own podcast about this case yesterday. Another scenario they proposed is that someone could have exploited Asha’s love of basketball, telling her she would be signed to some sort of basketball contract if she met them somewhere in the middle of the night.

  • Such a sad case and an adorable little girl. What really disturbs me is that it appears no one called the cops to report a little girl wandering the streets alone at 4am. Ridiculous.

  • I wouldn’t completely discount Asha meeting someone over the internet. My kids went to school during that time and both of them had access to computers and internet in school.

    Either way, someone lured her out at that time of night since there is no reason for her to get up in the middle of the night and sneak out in the dark when she was so afraid of the dark. I really hope this is solved for her parent’s sake. I can’t imagine how worried they habe been since her disappearance.

  • One scenario that people seem to miss is why she took off into the woods when she saw the tucker that circled back to help her. Maybe that was connected to why she was walking down the highway all alone in the first place. Perhaps she was lured out, or even ran away of her own volition, and someone tried to abduct her. She got away (or maybe struggled so much the perpetrator kicked her out), and took off down the highway. When she saw that a vehicle was coming up behind her and tried to pull over, she might have thought that was the perpetrator coming back for her, and she took off into the woods to get away from them. That would explain these actions, despite how obviously frightened and disoriented she must have been. Her items found near that shed might have been where she camped out until her abductor either came looking for her or was able to lure her back to them. Where was it that the new tip said they saw her get into the green car? Maybe it was another passing motorist down the highway seeing her get coerced to come back with the perpetrator despite initially getting away from them. You can’t look at these things with adult logic and perspective…she was 9, children have their own way of looking at things a lot of times.

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