Imagine saying goodnight to your teenager one night, and finding them missing the next day. The heartache, the panic, the conflicting thoughts between believing in their capabilities as a young adult and fearing the worst. Now imagine having to live with that not just for a day, or a week - but for years.

That was the reality that faced Asia Wilbon's father, Richard, when she disappeared unexpectedly sometime on February 13, 2020.

Who was Asia Wilbon?

At the time of her disappearance, Asia Wilbon was 16 years old. She lived in Kent, Washington, with her father Richard Wilbon, and her stepmother, Sharon Russell. She had moved to Washington sometime in 2014, having previously lived in Michigan and North Carolina.

Her father described Asia as an "introvert and a homebody" who may have suffered from social anxiety. Her step-mother claimed she got good grades in school, and loved volleyball and camping.

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As described, Asia was black, about 5'2" tall, weighed around 130 pounds, and had brown eyes and noticeable dimples. Her black hair was usually pulled back in a bun. Authorities claim she was last seen wearing a black jacket and jeans or dark pants.

The timeline of Asia's disappearance

Whenever a person goes missing - especially one who is vulnerable, like a teenager - it's important to trace every step in the timeline. Here's what we know.

  • February 3, 2020: Asia's biological mother, Nakia Wickware, passes away unexpectedly. Asia was reportedly depressed due to the passing of her mother, who lived in North Carolina.
  • February 12, 2020: Richard Wilbon says goodnight to his daughter before bed. An exact time is not given to the media.
  • February 13, 2020, Between 1-2 AM: Steps were heard, which were believed to be Asia getting up to use the restroom. (One source reports these were heard by Asia's stepmother.)
  • February 13, 2020, 1:35 PM: Asia's cellphone registers a "ping" in Federal Way, Washington. Sometime after this, the phone was either turned off or lost its battery and has not been used since.
  • February 13, 2020, afternoon: Richard Wilbon and his wife return home to find Asia missing, along with her phone and keys.
  • February 15, 2020, 9:30 AM: Someone reports seeing Asia at the Federal Way Transit Center with a backpack. Police also indicate that she may have last been seen near the Des Moines waterfront.
  • December 2020: Richard Wilbon claims to have received an email from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), reporting a possible sighting of Asia in South Carolina. No further information has been provided.

In 2021, the Washington State Patrol featured Asia's information on a "Homeward Bound" truck, which serves as a moving billboard to spread awareness across the state.

Homeward Bound WSP Truck Billboard for Asia Wilbon
Washington State Patrol

What might have happened to Asia?

With authorities in Kent claiming that they have exhausted all leads and information, there isn't much left in Asia Wilbon's disappearance other than speculation.

A starting point might be in figuring out why Asia - or her phone - was in Federal Way the next afternoon. This would have been approximately a 3-hour walk from Kent, meaning that if she had walked, she would have had little opportunity to sleep or rest and would have been noticed on surveillance footage somewhere along the routes. As she did not have her wallet with her (at least, as far as the public knows), she would not have been able to easily hire a taxi or Uber to drive there.  Likewise, Des Moines' waterway would have been about a two-hour walk.

While some theorize that Asia was another teenage runaway, this is believed to be unlikely given her personality, and the fact she left home with only her phone and keys.

Some speculation suggests that Asia might have been contacted on social media by someone who kidnapped or harmed her afterward. While this is possible, it also seems unlikely that the police would have discovered this information during their investigation and not shared this concern with the public. There is also no information suggesting a break-in of her home, or knowledge of her whereabouts by friends or other family members.

What we do know is that Asia Wilbon is still missing, and that her friends and family would love to have her back home - and to know what happened that February.

If you know anything, please contact the Kent Police Department at 253-852-2121.

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