JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Robin Drum admits she's had a hard time dealing with her oldest daughter's death.
Just a few short weeks ago a chance search on the Internet revealed a surprising path to justice.
Now, Drum wants answers for Ashli, and for three other young woman she never even met.
"This is my little sister with Ashli when she was a baby," Robin Drum tells me, showing me the first in a stack of photos she has of her oldest child.
"Always happy, always happy," Drum recalls of Ashli's younger years.
But, Ashli faced some serious health challenges. A birth defect left her without the use of her right ear. A brain disorder made easy decisions more difficult.
"I never sugar-coated anything," Robin tells me. "I always told her, here's what's wrong."
But as Ashli got older, those differences made life more difficult.
"She kept such a good, positive attitude. But like I said, toward the end in the eleventh grade, it was getting to be too much."
Ashli moved in with her grandmother, but that relationship became strained. Back in the spring of 2004, Robin and her two younger daughters remember Ashli first moving out of her grandmother's house then planning a trip to Johnson City, Tennessee to meet with a man she met when he worked for a manufacturer in Cape.
"She had went down there to meet with him, and then was greeted by his wife," Drum tells me. "And it just kind of went downhill after that."
Ashli spent a tough two months in Johnson City. She called her sisters Sarah and Jessie on July 12, 2004 saying she wanted to come home.
Five days later, a man found Ashli's body in a home on East Fairview Avenue.
Drum got the call a day after the gruesome discovery.
"They told me they just found her in the basement and that she had been there for a while."
Johnson City authorities told Drum they weren't sure how Ashli died.
The doctor who performed her autopsy found no recognizable cause of death. He wrote, "Neither the case of manner of death could be determined. No trauma was noted on the body and even with decomposition significant trauma should or would have been found."
"He said there was no reason for her to be dead," Drum recalls the doctor telling her.
Drum also remembers police telling her the name of the man who found Ashli's body.
"Yes, Oadis White."
Robin Drum remembers police really said nothing out of the ordinary about the man who found her daughter's body.
"That he had just rented the place and that he had found her, but they didn't think that there was any kind of connection," Drum recalls the officer telling her about White.
But a Google search on a whim brought Drum a flood of disturbing information on the man who reported finding her daughter's body.
"We were listening to a song and she (her daughter) said Ashli would love that song," Drum tells me. "And I said yeah. And then after she walked out of the room, I just Googled it. And these articles start coming up that I've never seen before. I'm like, what?"
When you start reading about White's criminal history since you lost Ashli, what did you think? I asked.
"I really felt that he was involved," said Ashli's mom. "I mean, I felt that what I read in the article was more than enough to at least charge him, talk to him, name him as a suspect, something."
Here's a timeline of events tied to Oadis White:
- July 17, 2004: White discovers Ashli Ayers' body in the basement of his Johnson City, TN home
- December 2005: Leah Feltner disappears
- April 2006: Meranda Hayden disappears
- February 2007: Feltner's remains found in Bristol creek, close to a home where White served as caretaker.
- April 2007: Jill Pope disappears
- December 2007: Pope's remains found in the same creek as Feltner's
- October 2008: Hayden's remains are found in home on property owned by a White family member
- March 2010: The body of White's girlfriend, Angela Statzer, is found in Bristol VA
- May 2011: White convicted of first degree murder in Statzer's death
White is at the Wallens Ridge State Prison in Virginia serving a life sentence. He was convicted of sexually assaulting his cell mate in 2011.
"I mean, whether he did it or not, we don't know that," Drum admits. "But I'm saying, from what I've read it's safe to say. Even the officer that I talked to said we are convinced he did it. But, we've got to go through the proper steps."
Drum believes Ashli was either choked or suffocated.
Dr. Russell Deidiker, the pathologist who handles autopsies in southeast Missouri, looked at Ashli's and tells me while there's no damage to her neck, you won't typically find any evidence in an autopsy if a victim is suffocated.
Robin Drum tells me she's finding a new strength and sense of purpose fighting not only for her daughter, but for the other girls tied to a single convicted killer.
"What makes my daughter and these other girls less important than his girlfriend? You've charged him with her and you went after him and made sure he paid for it," said Robin. "But, there are other girls out there."
I reached out to Meranda Hayden's mom and she tells me she feels the same way; that, White is connected and that her daughter also deserves justice.
Authorities with the Johnson City, Tennessee Police Department tell me there is "new attention in light of new information" in Ashli's case.
I also reached out to Oadis White, to see if either he or his attorney will comment on White's connection to Ashli's case or the disappearance and deaths of the three other women.