Ashley Nicole Summers, born June 16, 1993, lived in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. The girl was the older sister of a large family, which made her responsible for her younger siblings in the absence of Jennifer Summers, her mother.
Her family relationship was great, she often visited the homes of some of her relatives, such as uncles and grandparents. Ashley had a strong personality, and often used to act according to what she felt was right, which brought conflict between her and her mother. Even with some differences, the two got along well and were always together.
On the eve of her 14th birthday in 2007, Ashley changed her behavior. She demanded to spend more time with her friends, which was not always possible, as she had to take care of her siblings while her mother worked.
Discussions between Ashley and her stepfather got heated. The girl no longer obeyed his orders, claiming he was not her father.
At the same time, Ashley met Gene Gill, a boy who lived near her house. They started dating without Ashley’s mother knowing.
As the girl couldn’t leave the house because of her siblings, she took her boyfriend there, where they stayed together while her mother was away. At one point, one of the younger brothers commented on Gene, and the mother found out about what was happening without his permission.
A break in the mother-daughter relationship happened when Jennifer was against dating. Ashley started stealing money from her mother’s wallet and even tattooed her boyfriend’s name on her body.
The situation was out of control for Jennifer, who for summer vacation sent Ashley to her grandmother’s house. Maybe pulling her away from her boyfriend could improve their relationship.
Vacation at grandma’s house
Ashley’s grandmother worked full-time during the day, which meant she spent a lot of time alone on vacation. In those moments the young woman visited her uncles and cousins, and whenever she went out she communicated with the family. In addition, he maintained daily telephone contact with his mother.
A few days after her birthday, Ashley visited an aunt who had just moved into an apartment in suburban Cleveland. She even asked if she could move in with her aunt, who didn’t object, but Ashley never went.
July 4, 2007, last seen
A national holiday in the US, one of Ashley’s great-uncles was having a birthday party by the pool. She arrived at the event alone, looked a little sad, but got better talking to relatives and spent the afternoon having fun with her cousins.
At around 6pm, Ashley said she was leaving and left her relatives’ house. That was the last time she was seen.
Without any clue
Jennifer Summers took two days to notice her daughter’s disappearance, as it was common for the girl to sleep at relatives’ house. When the mother spoke to Kevin Donathan, one of the girl’s uncles, he said he saw Ashley on the morning of July 4th, where the two argued.
According to Kevin, Ashley would be causing intrigue in the family through cell phone messages, and this made the uncle destroy the device to stop him.
The mother was desperate, as her daughter had disappeared without her cell phone and the region where they lived was known for drug trafficking and gang fights. A police report was made at the police station, but officers insisted that Ashley left the house alone in an act of defiance.
The young woman was quite active on social media, but since she disappeared there has been no activity on her accounts.
Posters mysteriously disappeared
With little police effort, Ashley’s family printed posters with her photo and spread them around the city, and this resulted in a few calls from people saying they saw the young woman, nothing very concrete.
The next day, mysteriously, all the posters were torn down. Jennifer even thought that Ashley herself would have done it.
The mother’s suspicions fell on Gene, he made several statements to the police and was followed by Jennifer for weeks. In one of these episodes, Jennifer saw him entering an abandoned house and called authorities, but no trace of Ashley was found there.
Weeks later, Jennifer received a call from an unknown number. The person on the other end of the line said it was Ashley, she confirmed it was ok and hung up. This made the mother think that her daughter might have been kidnapped and they forced her to call.
Ashley Summers seen by her grandparents
On November 17, 2007, the same year Ashley disappeared, Ashley’s grandparents claimed to have seen her with blond hair walking on the sidewalk, but when they tried to drive back in the car they lost sight of her.
A year after the FBI entered the case, many similarities were seen with the disappearances of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. These two other young women disappeared in Cleveland in April 2003 and April 2004, respectively.
The investigation decided to subject all of Ashley’s family and friends to polygraph tests, the results of which were never made public. The FBI also did a door-to-door investigation that seemed to lead nowhere.
The phone call received by Jennifer was also investigated, but it was not possible to trace it or prove that, in fact, it was Ashley on the other end of the line.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus found alive
On May 6, 2013, a neighbor noticed that something was wrong with one of the houses on Seymour Avenue. A woman was screaming that her name was Amanda Berry and she was stuck with two other women.
When the police arrived at the scene, they realized that in addition to Amanda, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, missing since 2002, they had been kidnapped by Ariel Castro. Initially, there was speculation that Ashley Summers might also have been a prisoner in that house, but no evidence of this has been found.
There were some rumors that the phrase “Rest in peace, Ashley” was found written on one of Ariel’s basement walls. However, none of the three women said they had seen Ashley or that there could be a fourth victim.
With Amanda and Gina’s statements, the police saw that the two girls got into Ariel’s car because they knew her daughter. Even though it had nothing to do with Ashley’s case, the police established a new line of investigation where Ashley could have been kidnapped by an acquaintance.
January 2015, a woman is photographed
In January 2015, a woman was photographed on a security camera inside a car. According to local police, his portrait was shelved due to an attempt to use a false ID.
In March 2015, during a television program, an expert even said that a photo had up to 80% resemblance to the missing young woman. In the same year the woman in the photo was identified, and it was not Ashley.
Details about the case
Just 14 months after Ashley’s disappearance, Gene Gill was arrested for drug possession. In testimony, he said that the young woman’s disappearance caused him great emotional problems, which he was unable to deal with.
On December 4, 2018, Kevin Donathan, Ashley’s uncle, was charged with rape but not named a suspect in his niece’s disappearance. On February 25, 2020, Kevin, then 55, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for rape and prostitution.
Where is Ashley?
Ashley Summers remains missing to this day. Ashley Summers remains missing to this day. On June 16, 2013, Summers’ family and friends celebrated her 20th birthday by handing out flyers and releasing balloons on West 110th and Lorain Avenue.
Based on the cases of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, Ashley’s family continues to believe she can be found alive despite so many years without leads.