VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As the FBI tries to track down anyone involved in the abduction of Ashanti Billie, her parents have laid the groundwork for a memorial scholarship in their daughter’s name.
Meltony and Brandy Billie stood outside the Art Institute of Virginia Beach in Town Center on Monday to announce their plans for the Ashanti Foundation.
The foundation will include a partial scholarship to the Art Institute to be awarded to a graduate of Ashanti’s high school in Maryland who wants to pursue culinary arts.
Related Coverage: Ashanti Billie Disappearance
“Ashanti’s purpose was to touch others,” said Mrs. Billie. “She has done that since she was a kid … she’s continuing to do it in the afterlife.”
The 19-year-old moved to Virginia Beach in August to pursue her dreams of one day opening up her own bakery, according to her mom, who says Ashanti specialized in pastries.
“She knows I love salted caramel,” she said. “She actually made me salted caramel ice cream [and] salted caramel icing for cakes.”
Billie disappeared on Sept. 18 from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, where surveillance video shows her driving on to the base at around 5 a.m. and leaving around 5:30 a.m. Her parents say she was supposed to report for work at her part-time job at a sub shop, but she never showed up. The FBI says they are unsure if Billie was behind the wheel when her Mini Cooper left the base.
Sometime before 9 a.m. that day, according to the FBI, someone found Billie’s cell phone in a dumpster on Tallyho Terrace.
Five days later, on Sept. 23, someone called authorities after spotting her Mini Cooper in Ocean View. The search continued for 11 days before a landscaper in Charlotte, N.C. found Billie’s remains outside a church on Friday.
The Billie’s say the people responsible for their daughter’s death are “cowards,” but they say they have somehow forgiven them.
“Things don’t just happen. People are not just created this way,” said Mr. Billie. “Something had to happen in these people’s life to cause them to be that way. So, being that we are standing firm on God, we are not going to have hatred in our heart.”
The parents said on Monday they plan to possibly start a network for missing people like their daughter, but they didn’t talk specifics.
“I promise you: the name Ashanti will stick with all you guys,” said her father.
They hope to award the first scholarship for the fall 2018 semester.
Family members say they are still finalizing funeral arrangements and hope to have services on Friday, Oct. 13 in Maryland.