CHARLOTTE — Wednesday marks 31 days since Allisha Watts was last seen.
Since her disappearance, Channel 9 has been investigating resources available to help find her, including a national database that is now being used in the case.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said it wasn’t even them that put her in that database initially.
Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis learned Allisha Watts is now in that public national database, which is called NamUs. It’s a resource that allows jurisdictions to share information about missing persons cases.
Watts’ name was just added to the database Tuesday. In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said it was actually a private citizen -- not them -- who initiated the entry.
All of that comes after the department faced several questions about why the tool wasn’t being used earlier.
Three weeks into the investigation, the founder of the organization Black and Missing -- a former police officer herself -- told Curtis she wanted to see police add Watts to that database. She said doing so brings more awareness to the case and provides advanced tools and resources for law enforcement.
- ‘Allisha would never leave on her own,’ says missing woman’s family
- CMPD speaks about investigation for the first time since Allisha Watts vanished
- Shell casing, allegations of domestic violence reported at home where Allisha Watts was last seen
- Allisha Watts case: Missing woman’s boyfriend was noted as person of interest
- Missing woman’s car was found with unresponsive boyfriend at Anson County DMV
NamUs connects different agencies, medical examiners and the public in a way that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Last week, the investigator overseeing the investigation told Curtis that CMPD is using every available resource to find Watts. But when asked about NamUs, a spokesperson told Curtis it wasn’t relevant to Watts case.
A week ago, police sent a statement explaining that CMPD typically uses NamUs for longer-term cases or when leads have been exhausted. So when Channel 9 discovered Watts was in the database Tuesday, we asked if that’s an indication all leads are exhausted.
On Twitter, CMPD released a statement addressing our report, saying that detectives continue to actively follow investigative leads and are working tirelessly to bring resolution. They also mentioned the entry was initiated by a private citizen.
CMPD said to ensure the accuracy of the information, they submitted an entry for Watts themselves.
In that Twitter post, CMPD said the resources provides by NamUs are most beneficial for cases that have gone on for more than 180 days. They said CMPD’s normal practice is to wait 180 days before making an entry unless circumstances dictate otherwise.
However, North Carolina is one of 13 states with laws requiring investigators add missing people to NamUs. Until last month, that requirement was after 30 days missing. On July 10, lawmakers made it 90 days.
Curtis asked CMPD why the normal practice for handling missing persons cases like Allisha Watts’ deviates from state law.
On Thursday, police acknowledged that they made a mistake in saying they waited 180 days to enter someone into NamUs. They said they are in compliance with state law with the Watts case.
MORE PREVIOUS COVERAGE:
- Missing woman’s SUV found in Anson County, CMPD says
- Friends, family offer support in search for missing woman last seen in Charlotte
- ‘Where is Allisha?’: Investigators search home where missing woman was last seen
- Who is Allisha Watts, the Moore County woman who vanished from Charlotte?
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