Details of Disappearance Ashley was last seen at 12:00 p.m. on July 6, 2004, when she was dropped off at the Krug Pool in the vicinity of St. Joseph Avenue and Krug Park in St. Joseph, Missouri with her younger brother. When her mother came to get them later, only the brother was waiting; Ashley had disappeared.
Subsequent investigation showed that Ashley had planned to run away to California with Christopher Matthias Hart, a 32-year-old man living close to her home. He was on parole for second-degree assault and has also been convicted of drug possession, unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest. He and Ashley were reportedly going to go to California, or possibly Oregon.
Julie Wahlgren, a member of Hart's family, said she saw Ashley and Hart together at his house a few days after Ashley's disappearance. Wahlgren stated Ashley and Hart were planning to go to Oregon and Wahlgren was going to go with them, but decided not to, and Hart and Ashley left alone.
Eleven days after Ashley's disappearance, Hart was arrested in Olympia, Washington for purse-snatching. He gave the Washington officials a false name and as a result they did not know he was wanted in Missouri, so he was released. On September 7, two months after Ashley's disappearance, Hart was arrested again after Washington police discovered his true identity and the charges against him in Missouri. He had been staying with a cousin in the Olympia area.
Washington investigators found no sign of Ashley, or the stolen gray 1995 Pontiac Bonneville with Missouri license plates numbered 377MPY, which she and Hart had allegedly been traveling in. Hart's cousin said he had not seen Ashley or ever heard Hart mention her.
Hart has refused to divulge any information whatsoever on Ashley's whereabouts. He began acting bizarrely while in jail and was sent to the state mental hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. A photo of him is posted with this case summary. He was eventually released from prison on probation in 2015, but violated his probation and was re-arrested a month later and sent back to prison. In 2019, he was released again. He is currently in jail awaiting trial on charges of domestic violence and unlawful use of a weapon. He has never been charged in Ashley's case.
A female witness reported having seen Ashley on the northeast corner of Frederick Street and Leonard Road in St. Joseph in September 2004, three months after her disappearance. The witness was the vice principal at Ashley's school and knew her well, and said she recognized the jeans and t-shirt Ashley was wearing as ones she had previously worn to school.
She said Ashley was accompanied by a tall African-American man and that she and Ashley waved at each other when she saw her. Later that same day, the witness saw Ashley and the unidentified man again, walking down Frederick Street across the highway bridge. This sighting has not been verified.
Ashley may still be in the local area or she may be in the Kansas City, Missouri area. There is no evidence that she ever arrived in Washington. When she disappeared, she left behind all her personal belongings, including her medication and her three cats.
Ashley ran away from home once before, in 2001, but she did not leave the state and was only gone for about a day before returning home voluntarily. She was an eighth-grader at Robidoux Middle School at the time of her disappearance. Ashley's case remains unsolved and is still classified as a runaway.
- Saint Joseph Police Department
Updated 11 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 20, 2021; details of disappearance updated.