Have You Seen Ashley Summers? by David Lay

If you’ve been reading the Observation Deck lately, you’ve probably noticed concerned grandparent Linda Summers’ posts about her missing granddaughter, Ashley Summers. Ashley disappeared July 6, 2007, and hasn’t returned home.

The media has, for the most part, ignored the story, since Ashley isn’t from an affluent suburb, according to local crime writer/Scene contributor James Renner, known for his investigative work on the Amy Mihaljevic case. “If she’d been a cute young little girl from a rich suburb, you’d know her name. She’d be all over the news. Maybe even on Nancy Grace. But 15-year-old Ashley Summers was from the near-West side of Cleveland, from a ramshackle house on Holmden Avenue where the lawn has been overrun by little kids and dogs.” The local media put out the family’s press release, but hasn’t bothered to speak with the family, nor have any of the outlets broadcasted any follow-up stories.

According to the latest information posted on Renner’s blog, The Coldest Cases, Ashley was living with a great-uncle on Holmden Avenue, in a dangerous neighborhood, at the time of her disappearance. Eric “Big Willie” Wilson was a known frequenter of the area at the time. Wilson has been in the news as the man who shot 12-year-old Cookie Thomas, who got caught up in the gunfire from a botched drug deal. Wilson went on the lam and was captured in Montana. He was found guilty last year of kidnapping and raping a woman, who escaped, in 2004.

Ashley has multiple MySpace profiles with last logins within 2 weeks of her disappearance, but here’s where the power of the Internet still comes in: After Ashley’s story was posted to social networking site Twitter, the news spread like wildfire, thanks to celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. All 3 posted a link to Mrs. Summers’ post on the Observation Deck, setting a surge of traffic that logged over 10,000 views on the discussion thread. Mr. Kutcher took it a step further and posted the information on Ashley from the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office website.

Renner also brings up another twist: Ashley was known to frequent the McDonald’s on Lorain and the area where Georgina DeJesus and Amanda Berry went missing. Also, Berry’s family got a call after Amanda disappeared, from a man who said she was alive and safe. Ashley’s family received a similar call after she disappeared. Could all three disappearances be linked?

If you have any information on Ashley’s whereabouts, please contact the Cleveland Fugitive Task Force at 216-522-1400, the Cleveland Police Department’s First District at 216-623-5118, the FBI Cleveland Field Office at 216-522-1400, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-THE-LOST. A reward is available.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 3:27 PM, 03.26.2009