Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old woman who disappeared after her car was last seen entering a major Naval base in Virginia, has now been discovered dead. On November 8, federal authorities revealed they had accused a Navy veteran, Eric Brian Brown, 45, with kidnapping in connection with Billie’s death.
Brown was “already in custody on unrelated charges, including solicitation of prostitution and trespassing,” Fox News reported. Her exact cause of death has not yet been released.
The FBI says that Billie’s car “was last seen going onto Joint Expeditionary Base–Little Creek,” and that it’s believed she was “headed to the Blimpie location where she works.”
However, the car was then seen leaving the base (called J.E.B.) – it’s not clear whether Billie was inside it – and it was found abandoned a short time later, leading to initial reports that Billie was a missing person, according to WKTR.
In a statement, the FBI, which is spearheading the investigation, said it would be “relentless” in finding who “did this to her,” robbing Ashanti of her “life, her promise, and her future.” The FBI is involved because she was last seen entering a military base.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Billie’s Body Was Discovered Behind a Charlotte Church
Tragically, the FBI now says that human remains discovered behind a church in Charlotte, North Carolina are those of Ashanti Billie. According to WGN, “Brown is homeless and lives at random facilities and buildings on and off the naval bases. Billie’s coworkers told officials that Brown visited the Blimpie’s almost every day, and that he was often seen in neighboring buildings, including a 24-hour laundromat next door. The workers believed that Brown worked at the laundromat.”
The alleged motive? “Witnesses said they saw Brown trying to flirt with Billie on several occasions. One witness said they heard a conversation where Brown made a crude sexual comment to Billie,” WGN reported.
Martin Culbreth, who heads the FBI’s Norfolk office, released a statement that said, “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.”
Billie’s body was found six hours from her home.
According to WCNC-TV, a homicide investigation is proceeding. Billie had been missing since September 18, the television station reported, and a landscape worker discovered her body behind near East AME Zion Church. It was not clear yet what her cause of death was specifically, nor how long her body had been there.
2. Billie Didn’t Show Up for Work at Blimpie & Was in Culinary School
According to the FBI, Ashanti Markaila Billie “was last seen on Monday, September 18, 2017, entering Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia at approximately 5:00 a.m. She was reporting for work at a sandwich shop on base. She never arrived for work, nor did she attend her scheduled college classes.”
Andrew Estrada, an employee at Blimpie, told Pilot Online that he arrived to work and “was surprised to find no one there.”
“Ashanti Billie was scheduled to open that morning. The 19-year-old assistant manager is reliable and never late, Estrada said. She should have been there hours earlier,” reported Pilot Online.
Her cell phone was found in a dumpster a short time later. Estrada told Pilot Online that a “strange man” answered Billie’s cell phone when he tried calling it. “He told Estrada he found the phone in a dumpster in Norfolk, undamaged and fully charged. The man, who Estrada believes is a construction worker, said it seemed strange it would be thrown away when it was in good condition, so he took it in hopes that the owner would call and he could return it to them,” the newspaper reported.
Police then recovered the phone.
“Billie’s cell phone was recovered later on September 18th, in a dumpster located near the corner of Tallyho Terrae and Azalea Garden Road in Norfolk, Virginia. Her car was located on Saturday, September 23, 2017, in the 9500 block of Lakeside Drive in the Ocean View area of Norfolk, Virginia,” according to the FBI.
The FBI had described Ashanti Billie as “19 years old. She is 4’10” to 4’11” tall, weighs approximately 133 pounds, and has brown eyes and brown hair. She recently died her hair red.” She was studying culinary arts at Art Institute of Virginia Beach.
3. The Naval Base Is 4,000 Acres of Land & a Guard Checked Her ID
The Naval base that Billie was last seen entering is a critical cog in the Navy’s operations. Billie’s mother told Pilot Online that “a guard checked her (Ashanti’s) ID at 4:56 a.m…She would normally get to the sub shop at about 6 or 6:30 a.m.”
Police released surveillance video of Ashanti’s car.
According to Military.com, “Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story provides outstanding support and services to ensure maximum military readiness of operational forces and resident commands.”
“EB Little Creek-Fort Story has an estimated payroll of $900 million and employs 18,091 military and civilian personnel making it the largest military employer in the City of Virginia Beach. The base covers nearly 4,000 acres of land with 7.6 miles of beachfront area. There are 18 large ships home ported there with an additional mix of 126 smaller craft,” the site reported.
4. Blimpie & The FBI Joined Together to Offer a Reward in Billie’s Disappearance & Now Murder
There is a $20,000 reward being offered in the case of Ashanti Billie.
“Blimpie has announced it is working with the FBI and local Virginia Beach, VA authorities in an effort to find Ashanti Billie, an employee of the sub shop, who has been missing for more than a week. Blimpie has offered to match the FBI’s $10,000 reward for information that will lead to finding Billie,” the FBI announced before Billie’s body was discovered.
“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, as quoted in an FBI press release. “We are here to help support Ashanti’s family during this difficult time.”
“The FBI is heading the investigation into her disappearance and announced Wednesday it is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts. With the contribution from Blimpie, the reward is now at $20,000,” the press release noted.
People with information are asked to call the FBI Norfolk Field Office, (757) 455-0100.
5. Billie, Who Had a Boyfriend, Was Described as ‘One of the Good Ones’
Brandy Billie, Ashanti’s mother, told Pilot Online that her daughter was “one of the good ones. I always tell her that.”
She had a boyfriend in basic training in South Carolina, and she lived with roommates in an apartment, her mother told the newspaper, adding, “She got along with all her roommates and she has a good relationship with her boyfriend.”
Both of Ashanti’s parents are in the Army, the Pilot Online reported.