'Safety is paramount': Dating safety concerns rise following death of Allisha Watts

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Saturday, August 26, 2023
Dating safety concerns rise following death of Allisha Watts
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NC Coalition director is encouraging women to find ways to protect themselves while dating following the death of Allisha Watts.

MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's been an increase in domestic violence-related homicides this year according to advocates and sadly 39-year-old Allisha Watts is now among that number.

Investigators said it was her then-boyfriend 51-year-old James Dunmore who killed her. He was never listed as a suspect by police but always a point of suspicion by her family and friends as detailed in a 911 call after her disappearance.

"This is just not her. This is kind of strange. It frightens me because I know that she just started talking to this guy," said the 911 caller.

That guy is Dunmore. His records outline a violent past. He was sentenced to five years in prison on felony assault and battery charges on a family member and kidnapping back in 2002 in Virginia. Dunmore was also convicted of assault in North Carolina in 2006.

Documents obtained by ABC11 allege Dunmore physically assaulted and abducted another woman in the Charlotte area in March of this year. The complaint lists allegations of prior acts of violence including choking, punching, and verbal attacks.

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"It can feel jarring to think you know, someone, but find out new information, right, and to find out that they could do the most harmful of things," said Nisha Williams, who serves as the Legal Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

A letter from Allisha Watts's sister, Tammy Utley earlier this month questioned whether Allisha had found out about Dunmore's past. She wrote," Your lies and the deceit have a funny way of catching up with you and just when the veil had been removed from my sister's eyes, she started to see the real you."

"Studies have shown that lethality or risk of homicide drastically increases in abusive relationships when actually that person is leaving the relationship. And the reason that is, is because that is the time in which the abuser is at the least have the least amount of control," said Williams.

She is encouraging women to find ways to protect themselves while dating. Williams suggests a background check and turns out it's free at your county courthouse at the public service kiosks.

"The red flags you might be looking for, on a criminal background check would be things like a violation of a domestic violence protective order, that might be a red flag or having a charge of an assault or an assault on a female," said Williams. "Think to yourself, hmm, I wonder what's behind that. And that may lead to more information. But definitely, safety is paramount."

To find out how to obtain a criminal background check visit the NC Courts website.