VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Family members of Ashanti Billie and local policymakers gathered Saturday to commemorate the fourth anniversary of her disappearance and continue the push for the full implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act.
The Ashanti Alert Act is named after Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old woman who was abducted on her way to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in September 2017.
Her body was later discovered in North Carolina 11 days after she was first reported missing.
When Ashanti went missing, her age didn’t qualify her for an Amber or Silver alert – tools that notify the public to help find missing children or senior citizens. The Ashanti Alert would bridge that gap.
Community members held the event at GATHER Virginia Beach Saturday afternoon, fours years after Billie went missing, to talk about how to continue pushing for the alert. Virginia Beach mayor Bobby Dyer was also in attendance. He declared September 18 to be recognized as Ashanti Alert Awareness Day.
“It was a sacrifice,” said Brandy Billie on Saturday. “My daughter made a sacrifice for the greater good.”
In 2021, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have formally requested funding to ensure the full implementation of the Ashanti Alert system.
“I believe there’s a bigger purpose than any of us walking in here today,” said Brandy about her daughter. “She had a purpose and she served it. It was to help other people. Our goal was always to bring her home. That’s what we always said, ‘Bring Ashanti home, bring Ashanti home’ and we brought her home… it just wasn’t in the way we wanted. She went home to God.”
The law requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a national communications network, named the Ashanti Alert, that would notify the public about missing or endangered adults through radio and television broadcast systems.
The law also requires the Attorney General to designate a national coordinator to work with states to establish Ashanti Alert systems and to develop voluntary guidelines that states and territories should use in creating their networks.