As children, we all have a tendency to harbor this idea of a wonderful other life. Even when things are going well, most children hold onto their imaginations and dream of something bigger and better. When you are young, it is all too easy to feel like you can play the role of the main character and fail to see just how dangerous the world really can be. Some people speculate that it was this line of thinking that led to the disappearance of Asha Degree.
By all accounts, Asha Degree was a vibrant and vivacious young soul known for her tremendous energy. She was close with her family, incredibly popular at school, and always seemed to be at the center of attention in any room. As an athlete, Asha was committed to her team and to her talents. From an external perspective, Asha was sweet, young, and living a wonderful life. This is what makes everyone so confused about her disappearance. A girl with her whole life ahead of her, a loving family, and wonderful friends doesn’t seem like the kind of person to walk away from her life, but that is exactly what Asha did.
The majority of runaways are known to be older kids. It is more common among teenagers than it is for younger children, but at the age of nine, Asha decided to run away. It is unclear if she was running away, or chasing adventure. All that is known is that she left. In the middle of the night, Asha quietly packed a bag, grabbed her favorite outfits, and slipped out of her family home around 3 o’clock in the morning.
After leaving, Asha headed for a major roadway. At just nine years old, she traveled through a harrowing storm filled with rain and cold weather. It must have been a miserable time, and that is what startled the few witnesses who saw her. Police received calls from concerned drivers who had seen a small child making her way up the road in the middle of the night. One of them actually attempted to turn around, but Asha reportedly dove off into the forest when the vehicle approached. To the police’s knowledge, this was the last time that Asha was ever seen by a witness.
From the moment that Asha’s parents awoke to find her missing, the searches began. Immediately police, neighbors, and volunteers worked to scour the area where Asha had last been seen. They trudged through the forest and were unable to locate her. To this day, the search carries on. Asha left and never returned.
Though Asha did disappear completely, police were able to locate a few of her personal items. The first bit of evidence found was a few random articles of clothing. Specifically, they located a glove. Her parents were able to confirm that the glove belonged to her.
Later searches would reveal the fact that she might have been in a shed out in the forest. Police were able to find scattered candy wrappers and a few items that reportedly belonged to Asha. Based on the state of the place, it did not seem that Asha was being held there but rather was staying there herself, potentially living off of what she had packed. Some speculate that she stopped her for shelter after getting lost.
The biggest and most concerning breakthrough came nearly a year later at a construction site. While digging up an area, construction workers unearthed a child’s backpack. The startling detail was that they did not just find the backpack there buried in the dirt. It had been wrapped up in plastic bags and buried. It was at this point when police really began to lead towards foul play. Asha might have left voluntarily, but it didn’t seem like she stayed away by choice.
To this day, police officers have been unable to determine what could possibly make Asha head out into a vicious storm in the middle of the night. What possesses a nine-year-old girl to leave behind the life she knows and head out into a cruel and unforgiving world? Some speculate that her unusual actions might have been inspired by a book that she had recently read in school. The book, The Whipping Boy, was presented in many classrooms and involved two kids running away and ending up on a wild and terrifying adventure. Some speculate that Asha might have been looking for her own adventure.
Original theories surrounding Asha’s disappearance involved her simply getting lost and being unable to find her way out. However, since the area was searched and a body was never found, this seemed less likely over the years. Upon discovering the backpack wrapped in a bag, police have since switched to believing that Asha was abducted by someone while on her adventure. To this day, the case remains open.