Details of Disappearance
Asha resided with her family in an apartment on Oakcrest Street in Shelby, North Carolina in 2000. She was last seen inside her home at approximately 2:30 a.m. on February 14, 2000. Asha's father went to sleep at that time and told authorities his daughter was asleep in her bed when he checked on her.
Asha shared a room with her older brother, who stated that he heard noises during the early morning hours and assumed his sister was tossing in her sleep. Asha's mother went into her room at approximately 6:30 a.m. to wake her children for school and discovered Asha was not in her bed. The family immediately summoned authorities 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 her walking south on Highway 18 north of Shelby between 3:30 and 4:15 a.m. Asha 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. Photos of similar cars are posted with this case summary.
Investigators believe 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. Asha's basketball team lost a game, their first loss in the season, the day before her disappearance. Her family said 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 book bag and 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 the doors to the house were found locked; Asha kept her house key in the bookbag.
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 on February 17, 2000, three days after her disappearance. Her belongings were found near the stretch of road where Asha was seen walking in the early morning hours of February 14. 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 2001, 18 months after she disappeared. 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 the bookbag's discovery. The surrounding area was thoroughly searched afterwards, but additional evidence was reportedly not located. A photo of some of Asha's personal items is posted with this case summary.