Family of Allisha Watts ‘lost for words’ after remains found, boyfriend charged

CHARLOTTE — From the start, family has been leading the charge for answers in Allisha Watts’ disappearance.

It was Watts’ cousin, Gwen Utley, who first reported her missing last month. She said she saw Watts leaving a house in University City on July 16 with her boyfriend, James Dunmore.

Three days later, he was found in her car unresponsive at the Department of Motor Vehicles Office in Polkton.

Then on Thursday, the Montgomery County Sheriff Pete Herron confirmed Watts’ remains had been found and Dunmore is charged with murder in the case.

Utley said she saw Dunmore taken into custody on Thursday. She lives very close to him and said she took out her cellphone as soon she saw activity outside his home.

“When I saw the police pulling up -- as I see them pulling up, they were kind of scattering around at first, figuring out which way to go,” she said.

Video she captured appears to show Dunmore in custody, standing in his driveway with his hands behind his back. Investigators in tactical gear were at his side.


“He looked up, and I looked up at him as it was going on because he could see me recording him,” Utley said. “Because like I said, it was a relief that they finally connected with James Dunmore and did what they needed to do.”

Channel 9′s Jonathan Lowe learned from multiple family members that investigators met with them Thursday morning to give the update on finding Watts and charging Dunmore before the news became public.

“We already processed the fact that she may not have been alive, because it’s been so long,” Utley said. “We were still keeping hope. God has the last say.”

Utley said Watts used to visit her in Charlotte twice a month at least. The two were close like sisters, and it’s why she said she knew immediately she needed to report Watts missing over a month ago.

“I knew right away that something was going on. Even if I didn’t move the way people wanted me to, or I didn’t give out as much information as they wanted me to, they have to still understand that that’s my family,” she told Lowe.

She, like all of Watts’ family, is still processing the news that Allisha is gone.

“Upset, hurt, lost for words, but at the same time, our family needed some kind of closure, you know?” Utley said. “Everybody deserves closure.”

It was only weeks ago that police searched Dunmore’s home at least twice. It’s not clear right now if investigators found anything during those searches that connected him to the location where Watts was found.

VIDEO: ‘We miss her so much

“This is not what we prayed for,” said Dorothy Brower, a family friend. “We prayed every day that she would be found.”

Brower participated in some of the community searches for Allisha.

“We miss her so much,” she said. “There is a void.”

Throughout this investigation there has been tension between investigators and family and friends but not now.

“I have to say the doubts that we have had about Charlotte-Mecklenburg and any other law enforcement has been … I have trust,” Brower said.

The family is already thinking ahead about what justice should look like for Dunmore.

“You don’t just throw somebody away like that,” Brower said. “You don’t do that to a dog.”

Brower said she wants to see the death penalty as a sentence.

“I don’t want to pay my tax money keeping someone on death row for years,” she said.

Dunmore was not given a bond Thursday.

His first appearance before a judge will be Monday.

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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