Nine-year-old Asha was last seen in her home in an apartment on Oakcrest Street in Shelby, North Carolina at approximately 2:30 a.m. on February 14, 2000. Her father went to sleep around that time and told the police that Asha was asleep in her bed when he checked on her.
Asha shared a bedroom with her older brother, who stated that he heard noises during the early morning hours and assumed his sister was tossing in her sleep. Her mother went into her room at approximately 6:30 a.m. to wake up her children for school and discovered Asha wasn't in her bed.
The family immediately called the police and an extensive search of the surrounding area was initialized, with no result. Asha has never been heard from again.
Two truck drivers reported seeing Asha walking south on Highway 18 north of Shelby between 3:30 and 4:15 a.m. She was apparently near the intersection of Highway 180 at the time, about a mile from her home. She left the highway at this point and walked off into the darkness. It was the last confirmed sighting of the child.
Asha may have been sighted getting into a distinctive dark green early 1970s model car on the night she was last seen. The vehicle (which had rust around the wheel wells) is thought to have been either a Lincoln Mark IV or a Ford Thunderbird.
Investigators believe that Asha left her residence of her own accord. She is described as being quiet, shy person and a good student with a happy home life, and her reasons for leaving aren't clear.
The day before she went missing, Asha's basketball team lost a game which was their first loss of the season; her family said that she was upset over the loss, but she calmed down within a few hours.
Asha's fourth-grade class at Fallston Elementary School read the book "The Whipping Boy" by Sid Fleischman in February 2000; the book centers around the story of a prince and a commoner child who receives lashes on the royal's behalf. The children proceed to run away and the book details their adventures. Both boys return safely to the kingdom at the story's end. It is not known if the book served as a catalyst for Asha's disappearance.
Asha's black backpack and her black Tweety Bird purse were missing from her room after her disappearance, along with a pair of blue jeans with a red stripe, black sneakers, a long-sleeved white shirt with purple lettering, a red vest with black trim, black overalls with Tweety Bird on them and a long-sleeved black and white shirt. All of the doors to the house were found locked; Asha kept her house key in the bookbag.
On February 17, 2000 (three days after her disappearance), Asha's pencil, marker and Mickey Mouse hair bow were discovered on the ground in the doorway of a tool shed at Turner's Upholstery on Highway 18. Her belongings were found near the stretch of road where Asha was seen walking in the early morning hours of February 14th. A search of the area failed to produce additional evidence.
The items were discovered more than one mile from Asha's residence; a contractor uncovered Asha's book bag, which has her name and telephone number written on it, buried off Highway 18 in August of 2001 (18 months after Asha's disappearance). The item had been double-wrapped in black plastic trash bags and was found more than 26 miles from her family's home and in a different direction from where she'd been walking. Nearby some animal bones and a pair of men's khaki pants were found.
The bag was sent to a federal laboratory for testing, but, citing the pending investigation, authorities never released the results. Unconfirmed reports state the bag contained Asha's name on a piece of paper, as well as clothing and a pencil case.
In October of that year, a plastic trash bag similar to the one Asha's bookbag was wrapped in was found; the bag was sent to a police lab for analysis.
Investigators announced that they considered Asha's disappearance to be a criminal matter and foul play was suspected after discovering the backpack. The surrounding area was thoroughly searched afterwards, but additional evidence was reportedly not located.
Asha is described as an African-American female with black hair (which she may style in pigtails) & brown eyes, weighs 60 pounds and has a height of 4'6. She was last seen possibly wearing a white shirt, white jeans and white sneakers.