Rock Center   |  May 10, 2013

2013: Cleveland case gives hope to Ohio family of missing woman

In 2013, Rock Center’s Kate Snow meets the family of Ashley Summers, who disappeared in 2007 in the same Cleveland neighborhood where Ariel Castro allegedly kidnapped three women. The FBI says the Summers case was once tied to two other victims and is still an active investigation.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> welcome back. and we return with a question of whether or not there could be more victims in the cleveland case. one local mother has been raising that question because her daughter disappeared under circumstances that are very similar to the victims who were just rescued. tonight she tells her story for the first time to kate snow .

>> gina , gina .

>> reporter: while the families of three young women are catching up on lost years, another family still waits.

>> it's been a restless week. you know, my heart's been restless. i've been feeling all kinds of emotions. happy for the girls that were found. very sad that it wasn't my daughter. wondering when it's going to be her turn.

>> reporter: she had good reason to be hopeful. jennifer summers' daughter ashley was 14 in july 2007 when she disappeared just blocks from where the other girls were last seen and not far from ariel castro's house.

>> i miss everything about her. i miss just watching movies with her. we used to stay up and watch scary movies . i was always scared, she wasn't, so she laughed at me. i miss everything about that.

>> reporter: ashley 's step-grandmother linda remembers her smile.

>> real sweet, real sweet, real sweet girl.

>> that's one of my favorite pictures of her.

>> reporter: she's got beautiful eyes . what do you think when you see that?

>> a little baby doll .

>> reporter: ashley was her youngest. once ashley hit the teenage years her mom says things got harder. how did she do in school?

>> just about a dropout. she gave me a hard time about going every day. she'd just stay home.

>> reporter: you guys would fight sometimes.

>> yes.

>> reporter: over what?

>> her attitude. her mouthing off, getting smart.

>> reporter: after a fight, ashley went to live with her great-uncle, but just after independence day in 2007 she left that house and was never seen again.

>> i just went to the police station and made a report just in case.

>> reporter: did you think that maybe she ran away?

>> no. she stayed gone like one night before, and i told her i said, don't do that no more. i couldn't sleep. i was up all night worried about you. okay, mom, i promise.

>> reporter: a year after she disappeared she got a phone call .

>> it was ashley . she took one deep breath. it's me, mom, i'm okay, don't worry. it was really fast. then she just hung up.

>> reporter: did you say where are you?

>> i said where -- and the phone went --

>> reporter: dead.

>> dead.

>> reporter: you're sure that was her?

>> i'm sure it was her.

>> reporter: that was the last time.

>> that was the last time i heard from her.

>> reporter: the fbi asked to look at that case to see if she was like the other two girls who were missing. fbi special agent vicki anderson . why did that link get made?

>> i think because of the same vicinity. you know, it's a 20 -- maybe not even 20 -- 10-block radius to where ashley was last seen to where amanda and gina were last seen. we were very concerned that maybe thises with all one thing.

>> reporter: when you look at ashley 's picture, she's in some ways similar looking.

>> absolutely.

>> reporter: to the girls that were found.

>> right, right. kind of smaller, yeah, 14 years old.

>> reporter: pretty girl .

>> pretty little girl , absolutely.

>> reporter: while the fbi continued to investigate, the summers family heard very little for years. then came monday night.

>> my friends called me and said, are you watching the news? turn the news on. they found amanda berry and georgina and the third girl which name wasn't released.

>> reporter: so you think what?

>> oh, my god, let's hope it's ashley .

>> reporter: but of course it wasn't.

>> we have not found anything regarding ariel castro that leads us to believe that he had anything to do with ashley at this point. now maybe that becomes uncovered later. you know, we just don't know yet.

>> reporter: are you looking to see?

>> absolutely. all the investigators that were on this situation this week, whether it was the evidence response team, whether it was aelgts o agents out in the field, the command post taking phone calls . everyone is aware if you hear ashley summers' name, let's get on that immediately. everybody has been looking.

>> reporter: for the cleveland fbi office, it's personal. anderson says posters of ashley summers still hang on their walls. could there be other women in other basements?

>> sure, there could be.

>> reporter: while rare, cases like elizabeth smart , kidnapped for nine months, jaycee dugard, held captive for 18 years, and what happened here in cleveland give parents hope that others could be found alive.

>> we can't rule out that these individuals are being held against their will somewhere. because there are those cases that have come to light that that's the case. you know, until we find the remains of that individual, there's hope. there's hope that they could be there.

>> reporter: so the message to the national public is what?

>> help us. tell us what you've seen. if you see something that is suspicious, call us.

>> reporter: ashley 's sister vicky is doing her part to spread the word.

>> i'm victoria summers, and i'm making this video for my older sister ashley who is a missing child .

>> reporter: vicky shared a bedroom with her big sister ashley . on wednesday she made her this video featuring all of her siblings. do you remember me? i'm jenna. how about me? i'm julia.

>> we miss and love you, ashley .

>> reporter: jennifer regrets that she spoke her last words to ashley in anger. she says she thinks of her a million times a day. ashley might still be living right here in cleveland .

>> she might be watching this.

>> reporter: and if she is.

>> she better come home.

>> reporter: what would you say to her?

>> i would say that these six years have been the worst six years of my life, and that if i could just see her one more time, it would erase all the pain.

>> kate snow part of our reporting team in cleveland .