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EXCLUSIVE: Forensic artist hopes new image of missing teen Ashley Summers helps police find her

Posted: 3:35 PM, Aug 28, 2017
Updated: 2017-08-29 11:28:42-04
Age progression image of Ashley Summers released
Age progression image of Ashley Summers released
Age progression image of Ashley Summers released

Ashley Summers disappeared in July 2007. She left her uncle's house, left her cell phone behind and vanished. 

The then-14-year-old girl hasn't been seen since.

“Ashley didn't just vanish into thin air. Somebody knows what happened," said Robert Lowery, the VP of Missing Children Division for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "I hope someone will call and report what they know." 

A new age progression picture of Summers has been released. Each missing child has a new age progression image done every two years. Now, law enforcement is hoping that someone might recognize the young woman. 

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"That's what we are trying to do, spark that recognition," said Joe Mullins, a forensic artist with the NCMEC. Mullins worked on Summers' age progression picture. "The sad reality is being a forensic artist we see the children grow up on our computer screens."

Mullins is responsible for the new age progression picture of Ashley Summers. 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was opened in 1984 by the parents of Adam Walsh — a 6-year-old who went missing from a Sears department store in 1981 — as well as parents of other missing children and child advocates. They lobbied that more needed to be done for missing children. 

"In 1984, the number of missing children were at 800,000 a year. These were reports to law enforcement. Today, that number hovers around 460,000. So we have seen significant decreases in missing children reports," said Lowery. 

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were kidnapped, tortured and held captive by Ariel Castro in his Cleveland home for a decade. 

Shortly after the women's story made national headlines, law enforcement from across the country converged on NCMEC and a new policy on how long term missing children cases were investigated was written.

"150 subject matter experts, including the Cleveland FBI, the Cleveland Police Department came here to talk about the experiences they saw. We sat down and collectively wrote a manual for law enforcement for long term missing children," said Lowery.

Recently, there has been a spike in online enticement, where predators use social media and the internet to entice children, according to Lowery.