Possible suspect in Asha Degree case?

Authorities are looking at Donald Ferguson to see if he has any connection to the 2000 disappearance of Asha Degree. Her case is kind of bizarre: the nine-year-old, who had no history of running away and didn’t live in a troubled home, apparently sneaked out of bed in the middle of the night, taking a backpack full of stuff with her, and was seen walking along the state highway in the wee hours. Then she vanished, just like that.

Earlier this week, Mr. Ferguson was charged with the 1990 murder of Shalonda S. Poole, who was seven. (The authorities initially arrested a mentally disabled man who worked at Shalonda’s school; he was eventually acquitted.) I’m assuming there must be DNA tying Ferguson to the crime scene, but the cops aren’t saying much.

It’s natural that they would look and see if he’s been involved in the disappearance of a black girl who was of similar age and lived in the area.

23 thoughts on “Possible suspect in Asha Degree case?

  1. Angie January 10, 2014 / 1:20 pm

    The most troubling aspect of this case for me is, TWO truck drivers saw a nine year old girl walking along the highway alone in the middle of the night. Why didn’t either of them call the police, or pull over and see what was going on?

    • Meaghan January 10, 2014 / 2:25 pm

      They may not have realized what they saw until later, when Asha’s disappearance was on the news. Also, they may have been going too fast to stop for her.

    • TR January 12, 2014 / 3:16 am

      Are we sure these were truck drivers? I can’t actually find any media confirming that. “Motorists” or “drivers” are the only terms I see used. One article specifically says that the driver who turned around was in a car.

      Also, I don’t think we know for sure that they *didn’t* call the police. It’s possible they did call, but by the time the police got there, Asha was gone (or hidden).

      According to news articles, at least one of the motorists did pull over and turn around, but as they circled near Asha, she ran off into the woods. Perhaps the driver was afraid to follow her. Someone on Websleuths suggested that they might have feared a scam — adult(s) using a “lost” child to trick a passing driver into pulling over, only to be robbed/attacked by the adults.

  2. Princess Shantae January 10, 2014 / 1:27 pm

    Yeah, that makes no sense. A teenager or adult, yeah, but she was way too young to pass for grown. What were they thinking?
    And what in the world was Asha thinking to get up in the dead of night and stroll off down the highway?

  3. Karen Klinesmith Weber January 10, 2014 / 4:37 pm

    The whole thing about her just up and running away, at age 9, for no reason is so odd to me. I agree with the person above concerning the truck drivers. If I’d seen a small child walking alone alongside the highway in the middle of the night I would have called the police. We will never know why she supposedly ran away. Very sad.

  4. Meredith January 10, 2014 / 10:53 pm

    Some people on Websleuths and I have been wondering if she could of had somehow been sleepwalking. Apparently Asha’s mother said that she has a history of sleep walking. It may be possible that she could of gotten dressed and packed her bags and all that while sleepwalking, but maybe not. If Asha was sleepwalking then maybe she got hit by a car and the driver panicked and hid her body.

    • Meaghan January 10, 2014 / 10:55 pm

      People are capable of some pretty complicated actions while sleepwalking, even driving for example. There have been documented cases of people who allegedly committed murder in their sleep — and in at least one of those instances, the authorities are pretty sure that’s what’s really happened and the guy wasn’t pulling a lame excuse.

      • Kat January 11, 2014 / 10:51 pm

        I think I know what case you are talking about, saw it on Dateline or something some time ago…was it the guy whose neighbors saw him drown his wife or something in the backyard? I wish I could remember more details, but it has been a good while since I saw that case.

      • Meaghan January 11, 2014 / 10:56 pm

        The case I was thinking of was where a man got up, drove across town and brutally murdered his in-laws for no apparent reason.

  5. Holly January 10, 2014 / 11:23 pm

    This case just bewilders me. The fact that her things were found buried wrapped up in bags makes me wonder if someone was involved. I don’t think a 9 year old could have survived long on her own. I also wonder how much focus was put on her parents having something to do with it? However, I do not think they did. It sounds like just a very tragic case of either she rain away from home or perhaps was sleep walking.

    • TR January 12, 2014 / 2:36 am

      I agree that Asha’s parents were probably not involved. There doesn’t seem to be anything suspicious about them, and their behavior after Asha’s disappearance seems very consistent with grieving/searching parents who don’t have anything to hide. It’s been 12+ years and they’re still giving interviews about Asha; they are still married, live in the same house and apparently maintain a shrine for Asha in their home.

      Also, I remember them saying they were positive Asha *wouldn’t* intentionally run off in the middle of the night, because she was afraid of the dark and of the dogs that lived in the neighborhood. If they had something to do with her disappearance, I’d think it would have made sense for them to encourage the idea that she was a runaway, not discount it.

      Really hope we get some answers in this case soon. It certainly is a frightening & sad one.

  6. Keelie January 12, 2014 / 10:38 pm

    I have wondered if someone might have been secretly “grooming” her with ideas about “wonderful things,” etc. Maybe someone at school or church, someone she saw occasionally who was living a quiet life and not on anyone’s radar (you know, one of those next door neighbors who were so quiet and polite and would never hurt anyone..lol) She was so very young to even think about running away, and she certainly didn’t fit any profile of a young runaway. I just hope that her parents find an answer someday.

    • Tricia May 16, 2014 / 1:30 am

      I was thinking the same thing. Spot on. Some kids are nieve and easily tricked. I also believe she might of had to be a little slow, because of the tantrum she threw. My daughter is very bright educational wise, but lack common and street sense. I have to really look out for her. And will probably move to where she goes to college, because shes not ready for the real world yet. And probably won’t for awhile. But I know I have to really lookout for her.

  7. Ilya January 13, 2014 / 12:54 am

    Wasn’t there a rumor that Asha’s father was involved somehow? Hmm.

  8. Ilya January 13, 2014 / 12:55 am

    But its definitely one of the most bizarre missing person cases that I ever heard of – up there with Jason Jolkowski.

  9. emma l January 13, 2014 / 10:56 am

    How would her school book being found buried wrapped in trash bags play into the sleep walking theory? Its a very strange case indeed.
    Just as an FYI- I used to sleep walk all the time and once made a cup of tea whilst sleep walking. I was about 14 at the time.

    • Meaghan January 13, 2014 / 10:58 am

      I think it wasn’t Asha who wrapped up her school bag.

  10. William January 14, 2014 / 10:06 am

    I hope they can link this guy to other onsolved cases as well to get some closure for families.

  11. findingasha September 2, 2014 / 5:42 pm

    I’ve devoted a lot of time to Asha’s case and hope to have the most comprehensive site dedicated to her disappearance but I need your help. Together we can bring her home. Find out why I think the perpetrator is closer to home (not family).

    • findingasha September 2, 2014 / 5:44 pm

      Here’s the site, thanks:

  12. Diana October 14, 2014 / 3:02 pm


    I love the website. I saw this case on Find Our Missing and it has intrigued me ever since. I hope she is found someday soon 😦

    • Jeff March 5, 2015 / 9:09 am

      I think that whoever took and buried her stuff also took her and had knew her and her family in some way and may have been going to work leaving from Shelby to Morganton at that time.And a dummy is not going to circle around 3 times if they r not thinking about something.And dummy will not call the police or anybody prior to incident or anytime.And also whoever is able to bury her stuff is also able to bury a body.If stuff is in bags then a body also could be in a bag to prevent scent to fill the air.I believe that her body is still on 18 between where the last item was found to Morganton.A killer would also act as if they never did anything and try to stay a normal day time worker if they could.Who left for Morganton at that time to work?And who knew her that also had to be at work close to that time?I think she knew somebody who does leave for work at that time if they did.The family had lots of family and friends at Case farms and the bakery.The 2 well known largest all night companies who have hired tons of employees from Shelby.If they ever check those dates and times and of each person the maybe a good lead?

      • Jeff March 5, 2015 / 1:51 pm

        The difference between case farms and the bakery is that the bakery does never allow felonys or criminals to be employed.But case farms will hire anybody regardless of their history, as well as innmates.From my experience of working there of 2 and half years, i do know that they do not do criminal background checks.No recordings were ever checked as to the dates and times that could have been searched.Only 80 percent of their employees traveled at that time of a day and time and from Shelby.So easy to hire a dummy at that company.

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