Ashley Summers: New clues in 2007 disappearance of Cleveland girl

An ATM surveillance photo -- released by the Warwick, Rhode Island Police Department in late October -- depicts an unidentified woman who resembles Ashley Summers, who went missing in 2007.

Story highlights

  • Ashley Summers disappeared on July 6, 2007, when she was 14
  • Her step-grandmother saw a photo of a woman who looks like Summers on the Rhode Island Most Wanted website
  • The FBI is seeking the public's assistance in identifying the woman

(CNN)The family of Ashley Summers may have reason to be hopeful again.

In May 2013, when police discovered three young women who had been imprisoned inside a nondescript Cleveland home for nearly a decade, Summers' family and law enforcement hoped one of the women would be Ashley, who disappeared in Cleveland around the same time as the other women.
But the discovery turned out to be unrelated to Ashley's case and there was no new information about her whereabouts.
    But nearly eight years since she was last seen or heard from, the family's optimism has been restored by an unlikely discovery her step-grandmother made on the Rhode Island Most Wanted website in January.
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    An ATM surveillance photo -- released by the Warwick, Rhode Island, Police Department in late October -- depicts an unidentified woman with a familiar face, Special Agent Vicki Anderson of the FBI Cleveland Division said.
    "This is an incredible lookalike," Anderson said of the photo. The resemblance to Ashley, who would now be 21, is "strikingly similar," she added.
    The woman in the photo, along with an unidentified man she appears with, was being sought by Rhode Island police as a suspect in a string of check and identification thefts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the FBI said.
    Ashley Summers was last seen on July 9, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.
    Ashley's step-grandmother alerted the FBI about the photo, Anderson said.
    "There's nothing that tells us that it is her, but there's nothing telling us that it's not her either," Anderson said.
    Still, she considers the surveillance footage to be a breakthrough in the case, given that the FBI has found no legitimate sightings or social media activity by Ashley since she disappeared on July 6, 2007.
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    "It's the best lead we have," Anderson said. "We've had other supposed lookalikes, but nothing that has looked this similar. We consider this a huge tip for us."
    Because it is not possible to see the license plate of the car the couple was driving, Anderson said the FBI will rely exclusively on help from the public.
    "The FBI is utilizing a billboard campaign, social media and any news outlet that will air these photos for us," Anderson said.
    In the 2013 case, two of the missing women had been identified and police said they had disappeared within four years of when Ashley went missing -- and within five blocks of where she was last seen.
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    "At first, when they said the third girl wasn't identified, I was hoping one would be Ashley," Debra Summers, her aunt, told CNN at the time.
    But the family's nightmare continued.
    "There is no new information that's come to light about her: Ashley Summers is an active, open investigation," Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said at the time. "I can assure you that her disappearance was part of our questioning of the three subjects that we brought in."