By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor,

The life and legacy of Ashanti Billie, the 19-year-old who disappeared from a Hampton Roads, Virginia naval base and was found dead 11 days later, has continued to thrive through the Ashanti Alert Act.

“In the wake of an unspeakable tragedy, Meltony and Brandy Billie did something extraordinary: they channeled grief into a determination that other families would be spared the anguish of losing a loved one like they did Ashanti,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D- Va.), who has been instrumental in pushing for the passing of the Ashanti Alert Act in his state and through the Senate. “Though no one can ever erase their pain, I hope it comforts them now to know that Ashanti’s death will not have been in vain.

Ashanti Billie, 19, disappeared in Hampton Roads, Va., and was found dead 11 days later in North Carolina.  The {Ashanti Alert Act}, if approved by President Donald Trump, will be a federal alert system for missing adults 18-64. (Courtesy Photo)

“Ashanti’s memory will carry on in the lives that will be saved through this new alert system,” Warner said.

Like the Amber Alert, which notifies about missing children or Silver Alert for seniors 65 plus, The Ashanti Alert Act creates a federal alert system for missing adults ages 18-64.  Billie’s family argued that such a system could have been beneficial in finding the 19-year-old before it was too late, according to an earlier AFRO report.

“The Ashanti Alert will be a beacon of hope for those that have a loved one deemed as missing under questionable circumstances. Our dream is to bring as many as possible of those missing back home safely,” said Brandy Billie, mother of Ashanti Billie.

Meltony Billie, the 19-year-old’s father, also celebrated his daughter’s legacy.

“I am eternally grateful for her life—a life well lived—because through the Ashanti Alert Act lives will be saved,” said Meltony Billie, father of Ashanti Billie.

Sharing her husband’s sentiments about the bill continuing her daughter’s life, Billie’s mother said she is continuing her maternal duties.

“We are elated that this legislation has been enacted. Just because my daughter’s life was tragically cut short, that doesn’t mean that my time as a mother, her mother is over; far from it,” she said. “This federal legislation, the Ashanti Alert Act, is the first step in my current journey without my daughter by my side.

Several organizations also expressed excitement in the passing of the Ashanti Alert through Congress.

“Upon implementation of this law, we will be expanding the Amber Alert system, which has proven to be an effective tool, to include a demographic that is currently missing from its protections,” said Hilary O. Shelton, the director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy.

“Senator Warner’s Ashanti Alert Act of 2018 will help ensure that law enforcement has the information necessary to swiftly recover missing persons and accurately inform the general public about breaking news of a missing or endangered adult,” said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO). “NAPO believes that the establishment of a stand-alone Ashanti Alert Network will help prevent horrible tragedies like case of Ashanti Billie.”

“The Ashanti Alert is long overdue,” said Camille Cooper, director of Government Affairs for the National Association to PROTECT Children. “For decades, emphasis has been on finding missing children, while missing endangered adults has largely been ignored. With increases in human trafficking, murder and intimate partner violence, it’s time that the national crisis of women disappearing and being subjected to violence is met with the urgency it deserves.”

With so much support in Virginia, the Senate and Congress, the Billies, during the partial government shutdown, must wait for the official signature from President Donald Trump.

“As we eagerly await the signing by President Trump we take a moment to remember all the lives lost in the absence of this powerful legislation. Ashanti was a bright light in our lives and family and now we share her with the world,” the Billies said in a statement.

Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor