Black and Missing Foundation urges community to keep Allisha Watts case alive

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Friday, July 28, 2023
Local non-profit urges community to keep Allisha Watts case alive
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"We want to keep a positive note that she's going to be found"

MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Allisha Watts and Gwendolyn Utley are cousins but their love runs deeper.

"It was like sisters, you know, very close," said Utley.

That's why she knew something was wrong when Watts didn't show up to the comedy club as planned on July 16th.

"I came back home. Allisha's car was still there. At her boyfriend's house parked in the same spot," she said.

Watts's case started on July 16th when she disappeared in Charlotte. Her family said she was in town to visit her boyfriend.

Two days later on July 18th, the Anson County Sheriff's Office reported that State Highway Patrol found her car at the Anson County DMV. The sheriff's office said Watts' boyfriend, James Dunmore was inside the car and unresponsive.

On July 19th, Watts' family filed a missing persons report with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.

It was not until July 20th that the Anson County Sheriff's Office connected Watts' missing person case with the car found at the DMV.

Her disappearance has been agonizing for her family.

"My main concern right now is to get Allisha back home," said Utley.

Black people account for nearly 40% of reported missing person cases in the country but only make up 13% of the U.S. population. Sadly, Watts is now included in this number.

"The numbers are alarming, staggering," said Derrica Wilson. She is the co-founder of the national non-profit Black and Missing Foundation.

Wilson, who has a law enforcement background, started the non-profit in 2008 to help bring awareness to missing people of color after a woman in her community disappeared and didn't garner national attention.

"We can all name the Natalie Holloway, the Lacey Peterson, the Chandra Levy, the Elizabeth Smart, Gabby Petito those names just roll off your tongue, but no one knew like the Tiffany Foster, the Ariana Fitts, the Relisha Rudd, the Tiffany Blacksmith. And the list goes on and on," she said. "And so what we are trying to do is make sure that our missing are household names."

They are also helping bring the missing home. The Black and Missing Foundation's online database is filled with 6,000 cases. Watts' case was added just this week.

"The moment that we stop putting the information out, then people will get this notion that the person is no longer missing, or they're forgotten. And it's so far from the truth," said Wilson. "We need our community to be our digital milk carton. You know, we know that someone knows something."

"To help end this nightmare for their family, we want to keep a positive note that she's going to be found," said Utley.