Prayer walk held 17 years after disappearance of Asha Degree

SHELBY, N.C. — Family and friends held a prayer walk Saturday for a young girl who disappeared in Cleveland County 17 years ago.

Officials believe Asha Degree was abducted on Valentine's Day weekend, when she was only 9-years-old.

The FBI, local and state investigators have been working together to solve the case ever since.

On Saturday, Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman said investigators continue to make progress in their investigation into her disappearance, but couldn’t elaborate.

“The main thing is to bring closure to this family,” he said.

Norman was among dozens from the Cleveland County community who participated in the annual prayer walk for Asha.

The walk started from her family home on Oakcrest Drive in Shelby, to the place where she was last seen, just over a mile away, along state Highway 18.

“I honestly still think she's alive,” said Asha’s mother, Iquilla Degree. “As her mother, I've just got enough faith in God that if he already had her soul, that he would've let us know.”

Capt. Durwin Briscoe, of the Cleveland County’s Sheriff’s Office, remembers the day Asha disappeared 17 years ago.

Briscoe joined a handful of county law enforcement officers who commemorated the anniversary of Asha’s disappearance.

“I feel like I'm part of the family,” he said. “I want closure for the family and I like to see how the community still after 17 years are pulling together to make sure Asha is not forgotten.”

“We're going to do it every year until we have closure,” Degree said.

The reward for information that could lead to an arrest in the case is $45,000.

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