Authorities release new photos in case of 'Shelby's sweetheart' who vanished 18 years ago

CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — Nearly two decades after 9-year-old Asha Degree vanished from Shelby, two items of interest could help authorities figure out what happened to her.

Channel 9's Ken Lemon talked to an investigator working solely on Asha's case and he said the items are critical to solving it.

[Investigation ongoing for Cleveland County girl who vanished 18 years ago]

The Cleveland County Sheriff's Office released a Facebook video asking anyone who had the Dr. Seuss book, "McElligot's Pool" and lost track of it to call the Sheriff's Office.

The book was checked out from the Fallston Middle School library around early 2000, when Asha attended the school.

She vanished on Valentine's Day that year.

[RELATED: Prayer walk held 17 years after disappearance of Asha Degree]

Library records do not go back that far so the Sheriff's Office needs the public's help.

Channel 9 has followed the missing girl's case for the past 18 years.

Authorities are also looking for information about a New Kids on the Block concert T-shirt.

If you had a T-shirt like this one or know someone who did, please call the Sheriff Office.

Asha was last seen by truckers a mile from her home, walking along Highway 18. Detectives think someone took the girl.

[SLIDESHOW: Photos of Asha Degree]

Asha's book bag was found in Burke County a little over a year after she was reported missing.

Investigators have not told the public the reason why the items are important or if they were found inside her bag, but said they can be helpful in finding out what happened to her.

Residents in Fallston said they hope the vague clues are helpful.

"Any evidence is worth looking into," said resident Darryl McLeymore.

Many residents remember the extensive search after Asha was reported missing and believed to have been abducted.

[RELATED: FBI searches for car after new lead in 16-year-old case of missing girl]

They said they can't forget her family's pleas for help over the years.

"We just want her back home," said Asha's mother, Iquilla Degree.

Frank Lawrence, who used to be a custodian at Asha's school, said he can't forget her face, which he saw every day. He told Channel 9 he hopes someone will come forward with information about these clues and bring Shelby's sweetheart back home.

There is a reward of up to $45,000 for information that helps find Asha.

Asha Degree

Our work to find Asha Degree doesn't stop. Today, we are making a new plea for assistance to help us find out what happened to "Shelby's sweetheart." Please watch the video and call us if you recognize the items of interest that might offer new clues to help #FindAsha #NKOTB If you have any information regarding Asha's disappearance please contact the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office at 704-484-4822.

Posted by Cleveland County Sheriff's Office on Monday, October 8, 2018

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