Reward increased to $20,000 for info leading to Ashanti Billie

Family, friends and strangers worked together to help try to bring Ashanti Billie home Thursday.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- The reward money for information about Ashanti Billie's whereabouts has increased after the sub sandwich chain, Blimpie, stepped up to help in the search.

The FBI announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the location of missing college student.

Now, it's doubled to $20,000 after Blimpie contributed to the reward money. That's according to Jeff Wallace, the Vice President of Operations at Blimpie.

Two local women organized a volunteer search that will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Taylho Terrace and Azalea Garden Road in Norfolk on Thursday, Sept. 28.

The FBI released surveillance video Tuesday showing Billie's car leaving JEB Little Creek-Fort Story. That is where she was last seen.

Ashanti lives at the Midtown at Town Center Apartments in Virginia Beach. Her mother said she works a few miles north, at Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek. Police found her car further north on Lakeside Drive in Ocean View on Saturday.

Congressman Scott Taylor spoke with the Billie family Monday morning. Taylor said, "Understandably they're a little upset with sort of the progress of what's happening to find their daughter."

He also said,"listening to them I think that there perhaps were some mistakes made in protocol... I don't know that for sure yet. I don't want to disparage anybody, but we're going to make some calls to everything from the feds all of the way down to local level and in my office, all resources all hands are on deck." 

Loved ones held a prayer gathering for the missing 19-year-old. She has been missing since Monday, September 18 and now the family is hanging on to hope that she'll still be found.

All pieces in the search for Ashanti that the parents are praying will bring results soon.

"I refuse to call it a vigil tonight, because that is something else to me. And my baby is coming home," said Brandy Billie.

The community of Virginia Beach is standing together Sunday night. "It renews my faith," said Meltony Billie.

Candles in hand and prayers were lit by hundreds at the prayer gathering in solidarity to bring Ashanti Billie home. 

The concerned parents approached Taylor because he was a Navy SEAL. Taylor said he plans to talk to the Naval base. "Obviously, there's CCC'd cameras. There's -- the phone was found. There's a beacon that triangulates the position that you can get."

Ashanti's parents said their daughter worked at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base "Blimpie" store.

"The last place her vehicle was seen was entering a military installation, where she showed her ID card. The vehicle left off with the last time my baby was seen ... our baby was entering gate one Little Creek gate. So, whatever happened, it happened on that installation," said Brandy.

"To know that somebody who I gave freedom to, has taken my daughter's freedom."

Both Meltony and Brandy Billie served years and multiple deployments with the Army.

"Blimpie has not reached out to us. Well, no one has and for me, myself, I'm holding the base commander responsible. Cause that was the last place my kid was seen," said Meltony.

Ashanti Markaila Billie by 13News Now on Scribd

"This is not her, so something happened to her... someone took her, someone did something to her. They took her from her vehicle," said Brandy.

Brandy said they're grateful for the support and the detectives searching for Ashanti.

"Norfolk, Virginia Beach, the FBI, NCIS... so there are people working on it," said Brandy.

The gathering on Sunday evening in Virginia Beach brought together people from Maryland and Virginia; strangers and old high school friends; student and faculty from Ashanti's college.

They all said they're joining in the support and search.

"The last thing that we hope is that the girl we send off to school just all of the sudden vanishes," said The Way Church pastor, Chris Hines.  "I need to be here, I feel that I need to be here," said one adjunct instructor at the Art Institute Virginia Beach, Brian Labarr.

"People are out here looking for you, and we hope that you're safe," said Ashanti’s high school friend Jazmine Cummings.

Ashanti's family said they are determined to stay in Virginia until Ashanti is back. On Monday, the family plans to speak with Congressman Scott Taylor about the investigation.

They also said they're raising awareness for not just Ashanti's case, but dedicating their lives now to help find all missing people.

Ashanti Billie is 4'11" tall and weighs around 133 pounds. If you have any tips on where Ashanti might be, please call Virginia Beach Police.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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