The body found Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, is that of Ashanti Billie, the FBI said Saturday that local officials determined.
Billie, a culinary arts student who grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, was last seen Sept. 18 at a naval base in Norfolk, Virginia. She was 19.
FBI special agent Martin Culbreth said in a statement issued Saturday:
“It is with deep regret that I inform the community that Ashanti Billie has been located, deceased, in Charlotte, North Carolina. I, along with the entire investigative team, offer our most sincere condolences to the Billie family, especially Ashanti’s parents Brandy and Tony. Our thoughts and prayers are with you,” he said.
The family said Friday they had been told a body was found but it was not clear if it was Billie’s.
“As the family awaits further updates, we ask that you continue to keep us in prayer and pray this is not Ashanti Billie,” a statement from the family said.
More than 75 volunteers combed two Norfolk, Virginia, neighborhoods Thursday, looking for any clues that would lead them to Billie.
After a two-hour search, they returned with a pink shoe and a sweatshirt, The Virginia Pilot reported.
Billie was last seen about 5 a.m. on Sept. 18 entering Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Norfolk, where she was an assistant manager at a Blimpie sandwich shop. But police say she never arrived at work.
Her cellphone was found later that day in a dumpster nearly 3 miles away from the base. Neighbors spotted her car Sept. 23 on a dead-end road in the Ocean View section of the city. They told police the car had been there for several days.
On Thursday, a volunteer found a pink shoe near where Billie’s car was found, The Virginia Pilot reported. According to the newspaper, a sweatshirt and phone charger also were found during the search.
It’s not immediately clear if those items are related to her disappearance.
On the same day as the search, the FBI released a more recent photo of Billie — a driver’s license photo that recently was taken. In the photo, Billie has dreadlocks that are dyed multiple colors at the ends.
The agency took over the search for Billie on Monday, and offered a $10,000 reward for information that leads to her whereabouts. Two days later, Blimpie, Billie’s employer, matched the offer, bringing the total reward amount to $20,000.
“We are very concerned about the disappearance of Ashanti Billie and we are working with the authorities to help find her and bring her home safely,” said Jeff Wallace, vice president of operations for Blimpie. “We are here to help support Ashanti’s family during this difficult time.”
Billie’s parents, Brandy and Meltony Billie, said earlier this week they remained hopeful that she would be found.
“Just help me bring my baby, Ashanti, home, please,” the missing woman’s mother said through tears in a video posted to Facebook.
Brandy and Meltony Billie live in Maryland and are both veterans.
Billie moved to Virginia Beach in August to attend culinary arts classes at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach. She graduated from Henry Wise High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, in 2016.
Ashanti Billie was about 4 feet 10 inches tall and weighed about 135 pounds, an FBI representative said. She had brown eyes and had recently dyed her hair red.
Anyone with information for the FBI is asked to contact the FBI Norfolk Field Office at 757-455-0100.
Published 21 minutes ago | Updated 1 minute ago