Federal officials are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the death of a missing 19-year-old college student who vanished from Virginia last month, PEOPLE confirms.
Ashanti Billie’s body was found behind a church in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday — more than 300 miles from where she disappeared in Norfolk on Sept. 18, a spokesperson from the FBI’s Norfolk office tells PEOPLE.
“To the person or persons that decided they wanted to take our baby away from us and away from everyone that loved her, you’re a coward,” Billie’s mother, Brandy, said during a recent press conference. “Ashanti, baby, we love, we love you.”
Billie, a student at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach, was last seen heading into work at a sandwich shop on the Joint Expeditionary Base — Little Creek at around 5 a.m. that Monday morning.
“Ashanti never arrived for work, nor did she attend her scheduled college classes,” federal officials said in a statement.
Investigators found her cell phone that day in a Norfolk dumpster and later found her car abandoned. An intense search for the teen ensued with Billie’s loved ones forming a search party to look for her, according to a flyer shared on Facebook.
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“This is not one of the outcomes that we all were seeking,” her father, Meltony, said at the press conference. He later added of Billie, “She’s home. She’s home with God.”
A landscaping worker found Billie’s body near the East AME Zion Church and called the police, WUSA reports.
In the wake of her death, Billie’s parents told WTKR that they are working to create The Ashanti Foundation, a scholarship fund for culinary arts students.
In a statement to PEOPLE, school officials said they are “deeply saddened by the tragic loss.”