UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - A reward to help find a missing 19-year-old woman who grew up in Prince George's County has been doubled.
It has been nine days since Ashanti Billie's car was last seen coming and going from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia, where she worked.
Billie's employer Blimpie has matched the FBI's reward to increase the total to $20,000 for information that will help locate her.
As the frantic search for Billie continues in the Virginia Beach area, back in Maryland, many people are holding out hope she will be found soon.
"If you knew her, you liked her," said Tyrone Hicks, an assistant principal at Dr. Henry Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro.
He said Billie graduated from the high school in 2016. She was a member of the dance team and described as very outgoing. In recent days, Hicks said he has heard from many of her fellow classmates. Some of Billie's friends plan on holding a gathering Sunday at the Wise High School to keep the focus on bringing her home.
"Graduating class members have reached out saying on social media wanting to know what they could do to try to help the family or help in the process," said Hicks. "She had a lot of friends."
The FBI released a video of Billie's car coming and leaving from a gate at the Virginia military base on Sept. 16. Several days later, her car was found abandoned 12 miles away from base, and her cellphone was found at another location tossed in a dumpster.
"We are all praying and trying to remain optimistic," Hicks said.
The FBI said they had nothing new to report about the investigation on Wednesday.
Billie's family is asking for another piece of video from another gate she passed through at the military base on Sept. 16, but the FBI has not released that video yet.
A family representative in the Virginia Beach area said a search for Billie is being planned on Thursday.