Mother of Abducted Girl Speaks - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/02/03

Mother of Abducted Girl Speaks

Ashleigh Moore Ashleigh Moore
Vallery Armstrong Vallery Armstrong

Two weeks ago today, Ashleigh Moore's family awoke to find her missing from her Southside Savannah home, and there's still no trace of her. After days of endless searching throughout several Savannah areas, police and volunteers have found nothing. Last night, Ashleigh's friends and family came together for a candlelight vigil.

America's Most Wanted will air Ashleigh's story tomorrow night at 9pm. Members of the family and community want to hammer home the message that they still need help looking for the 12-year-old girl.

Though many are praying and helping in that search, no one can understand the pain Ashleigh's family is feeling right now better than a Savannah woman who lost her own daughter more than 20 years ago. WTOC spent the day talking with Mary Ann McCray, whose daughter was murdered and raped by someone she knew. She has learned to live with that pain over the years, and has a message tonight for Ashleigh's family.

When six-year-old Vallery Armstrong didn't come home one Sunday night, Mary Ann knew something was wrong.

"After I couldn't find her, we knew something was definitely wrong, because she didn't leave the house like that," she said.

After a day of searching, Vallery was found dead in a nearby ditch. Her abductor was someone she knew, a neighbor.

"Everybody said, watch out for the stranger, no it's not the stranger, it's the one you know," said Mary Ann.

When it was all over, Mary Ann suffered a mental breakdown. She says it was her faith in God that turned her life around.

"I did not know my husband, my children, yet God brought me out," she said.

Now she sees another family going through what she want through. Only for Ashleigh's family, she says it's worse.

"Just one night tore me down, two weeks is rough," said Mary Ann.

That's two weeks of not knowing where Ashleigh is or if she's all right. But this mother who's lived the nightmare has advice for Ashleigh's family.

"All I want Ashleigh's mother to know is hold on, hang in there, just hang in and pray," she said.

If you want to help search for Ashleigh, another search party will be meeting tomorrow at 4pm at the Island Breeze restaurant in the 2000 block of Montgomery Street.

Reported by: Elizabeth Garcia, egarcia@wtoc.com

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