Ashley Summers disappearance: FBI seeks tips on missing 14-year-old girl

Ashley Summers (FBI)

Ashley Summers was a typical teenager in 2007: She argued with her mom about getting a tattoo and frequently stayed with extended family on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio. 

"[Ashley] had started to disagree with her mom about a couple of things," FBI Cleveland Special Agent Cristin McCaskill said in a post on the FBI’s website. "One point of contention was when Ashley got a tattoo—it read 'Gene,' the name of her boyfriend at the time, with a heart around it."

Summers was 14 years old when she was last seen in Cleveland 17 years ago. According to the FBI, she was last seen around July 7 or 8, 2007, and her family reported her missing to Cleveland police on July 11. 

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Police initially treated Summers as a runaway because of recent fights with her mom, but her large, close-knit family never believed she disappeared on her own. 

"Sometimes day-to-day life could get chaotic, but nonetheless, everyone purportedly very much cared about each other and kept in touch," McCaskill explained. 

The FBI joined the investigation in 2008, when authorities were investigating the disappearance of Gina DeJesus, another girl from the west side of Cleveland who was around the same age as Summers. DeJesus, it turns out, was one of the three women who were held hostage by Ariel Castro. Investigators initially thought Summers may have been one of Castro’s victims, but there’s no evidence to support the theory. 

Ashley Summers (FBI)

Gene, Summers’ boyfriend, cooperated with investigators, and police don’t believe there was foul play on his part. 

"I can't think of a single agent on our squad or analyst that hasn't touched this investigation," said McCaskill. 

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In 2018, the investigation into Summers’ disappearance led to the indictment of her great uncle Kevin Donathan. Donathan pleaded guilty to multiple counts of rape, attempted rape and sexual imposition. He was sentenced in 2020 to 35 years in prison. 

Help find Ashley Summers

The FBI says Ashley was 5-foot, 5 inches tall and 130 pounds when she disappeared. She had brown hair and blue eyes and a tattoo on her upper-right arm with the name "Gene" in black ink over a red heart. She would now be 31 years old. 

"Ashley is deeply missed and loved," Jennifer Summers, Ashley’s mother, said in a statement to the FBI. "We cling to the hope of her safe return. We appeal to anyone with information to come forward and contact the Cleveland FBI."

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"This is still very much an active investigation," McCaskill said. "We still hope to bring resolution to Ashley’s family. And I believe that the only way we're going to be able to do that at this point is through tips—and the only way to generate those tips is by getting Ashley’s story out to the public. I am certain there are individuals out there who we haven’t spoken to yet. If someone believes they saw Ashley or knows where she may be, we welcome all tips."