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New photo of Asha Degree released 20 years after she went missing

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created the age-progressed photo as investigators push for leads.

SHELBY, N.C. — The Cleveland County Sheriff's Office, FBI and SBI released a new age-progressed photo of Asha Degree, who went missing 20 years ago this Valentine's Day.

Degree was nine-years-old when she was last seen walking along Highway 18 between Fallston and Shelby.

Investigators continue to search for clues as they believe someone in the community knows critical details about what happened to Degree, who's since been called "Cleveland County's Sweetheart."

"There's someone today that'll hear this message," Sheriff Alan Norman said. "You're carrying the burden, and you've carried it for 20 years, and I want you to contact me personally to relieve yourself of that burden, and let's bring Asha home."

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created the age-progressed photo, which showed Degree as a 29-year-old woman.

Shelley Lynch, the FBI Charlotte Office's spokeswoman, said Degree's mother provided input for the new photo.

"[She said] Asha looked more like her father's side of the family," Lynch said. "That would give kind of more of an accurate photo of what she might look like today."

The new photo will be placed on billboards along major interstates across the region for the next few weeks, including along I-77 and I-85 in Charlotte.

They hope someone who knows critical details about what happened will see this new photo and come forward, bringing closure to the case.

Sheriff Norman was the shift commander on the day Degree was reported missing.

"She went missing under my watch," Sheriff Norman said. "I want her brought home under my watch."

Anyone with information can call 704-672-6100, and there is a $45,000 reward.

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