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Authorities Dig For Evidence In Case Of Girl Missing Since 2000

Authorities digging for evidence about the disappearance of a Cleveland County girl say they believe bones they found belong to an animal

Charlotte, NC -- Authorities digging for evidence about the disappearance four years ago of a Cleveland County girl say they believe the bones they found belong to an animal. Cleveland Sheriff Raymond Hamrick said Wednesday one of his detectives received information that led to the search, but would not be more specific. Investigators had not decided whether to continue looking in the area, he said. Asha Degree was 9 years old when she disappeared February 14, 2000, from her home north of Shelby. Chief Deputy Danny Gordon said late Wednesday that the remains had not been tested, but do not appear to be human. Deputies and the SBI began digging in Lawndale on Tuesday afternoon with a coroner and medical examiner nearby. "It's an emotional roller coaster," said Sgt. Wayne Thomas of the Cleveland sheriff's department, who formerly was assigned to the case. "You've got no leads and then, boom, you've got something coming in." Harold Degree, Asha's father, said that his family found out about the search from a television news broadcast. The family lives in Fallston, six miles from the dig site. Authorities carried a few brown bags from the cordoned off area while a bulldozer dug into the soil. Harold Degree said Asha went to bed at about 6:30 pm on February 13, but woke two hours later when lightning storms and high winds swept through the area. He also said Asha and her brother, O'Bryan, were sleeping when he checked on them after midnight. In the morning, when Asha's mother, Iquilla, went to wake the girl, Asha was not there. In early August 2001, a construction worker found Asha's book bag in a woods about six miles south of Morganton and 40 miles north of where she was last seen.

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