The father of Ashanti Dyzare Harper, who went missing a week ago, describes his daughter as a typical teenager who was excited to have her first summer job working at her aunt's food trailer business.
William Harper, the father of the 15-year-old, said he can't fathom why his daughter would disappear without a word.
And he doesn't understand why she hasn't contacted anyone since she disappeared in the early morning hours of July 22. Wayne County sheriff deputies classified Harper as a runaway and said she may have left home around 2 a.m. while her aunt was at work. She was last seen by younger cousins at the residence, deputies said.
Harper's family also believes she was in contact with a 17-year-old black male on Instagram. Since her disappearance, her Instagram and Snapchat accounts have been closed or restricted. She has also been inactive on social media.
The past week has been difficult and stressful for the entire family, William Harper said.
"I have spent hours at night driving in Wayne County, Harnett County and Cumberland County looking for my daughter," he said.
The family continues to search for the teen and is asking for any information that can help in finding her.
Ashanti Harper complained of a headache the night before she left her aunt LaWanda Warren's house on Antioch Church Road in Pikeville, according to the family.
Warren discovered just after 6 a.m., on July 22, that her niece was missing. Originally on her way to work, Warren returned to the home to pick up an item she left behind.
After she entered the home, she noticed that a bedroom window was open. She then went to the back of the house to check outside. Warren then realized that Harper was gone.
She contacted Harper's parents first, followed by a call to the authorities to report the missing teen.
In May, Harper's family moved to Lillington from Northfield, New Jersey, where her father was stationed active duty in the Army.
William Harper said that his wife, McKiney, last spoke to their daughter on Saturday, July 21. He said that during the conversation, she talked about her summer job and her new job duties.
William Harper said that his daughter's disappearance is out of character. She has never run away from home before, he said.
William Harper said that if he could speak to his daughter he would tell her, "Baby please call us. We need to know how you are doing and that everything is OK.
"We want you home. We need you home. Reach out to us. Some way, get a message to us that you are OK. We want you home.
"We miss you."
On Thursday, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office released a photo of a person of interest, an unknown male who is described as being tall with several tattoos, according to sheriff's reports from the New Jersey area.
The identity of the young man was confirmed by Ashanti Harper's younger siblings and nieces, deputies said.
William Harper said that family members do not know the person of interest that his daughter allegedly left with.
"She is not allowed to have any boyfriends," he said. "Ashanti is too young. She needs to focus on school and being a child."
Harper is a rising high school sophomore and set to attend Overhills High School in Spring Lake in August.
She is described as being 4 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 110 pounds. She has a light complexion with long black hair extensions and was last seen wearing a pink coat and dark pants.
When she left, she took personal items and clothing in a bag, according to Wayne County sheriff deputies. She also has a phone that can connect to WiFi.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Wayne County Sheriff's Office at 919-731-1480.