‘Hoping for more’: Allisha Watts’ autopsy leaves many questions

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.C. — The autopsy report for Allisha Watts was released on Wednesday and it shows officials cannot determine how she died.

July 2023 was the last time 39-year-old Allisha Watts was seen in Charlotte. The Moore County woman was leaving the Charlotte home of her ex-boyfriend, James Dunmore to head to a comedy show.

After she disappeared, Dunmore was later found in her Mercedes SUV unconscious. He was parked in an Anson County Department of Motor Vehicles parking lot.

Watts’ disappearance sparked a search that lasted until Aug. 24, 2023, when her body was found in a forest in Candor, a town in Montgomery County. Dunmore was charged with first-degree murder.

>> Read more about the case on the 9 Focus Stories page.

In the newly-released autopsy report, investigators revealed they identified Watts’ body through a dental exam. When she was found, her body had decomposed into mostly skeletal remains. Her remains also appeared to have been disturbed by animals and insects.

Authorities said her remains weighed just 38 pounds and she no longer had any recognizable organs. They were also able to save the clothing she was wearing as evidence.

The autopsy report said officials could not identify any injuries, signs of trauma, or any other natural disease that happened before her death.

Yolanda Trotman, a former judge and current criminal defense attorney, said the findings raise a lot of questions.

“Oftentimes, bones can still tell the story,” said Trotman, who is not involved in the case but reviewed the report for Channel 9. “You would still think that maybe there would be enough tissue or something in the toxicology.”

“Given the scene findings, autopsy findings, and toxicological findings, as well as the impossibility of ruling out other competing causes of death because of skeletonization, the cause and manner of death, in this case, are best left as undetermined,” according to the report.

Detectives were able to track Dunmore and Watts’ cellphone signals on July 18, 2023, to the location where her body was found. Both their phones pinged near where the body was found.

“Understand though, a phone pinging at a location means that that phone is at that location,” Trotman said. “It doesn’t mean that that person is at that location.”

Since the murder charge was filed against Dunmore, his attorneys are demanding to see more case evidence. They were prepared to ask the judge for Dunmore’s $1 million bond to be lowered if they don’t get crucial pieces of information and evidence from the prosecution. That evidence included the autopsy report.

“When you have an autopsy report that is undetermined, and the toxicology that doesn’t even necessarily point to it being a homicide, they absolutely are going to ask for a bond reduction,” Trotman said.

Watts’ most ardent supporters, including her mentor, Dot Brower, are trying to accept the report.

“I was hoping for more definitive evidence,” Brower said. “We don’t want to say we are losing. It just means that there has got to be some more questions asked.”

(WATCH PREVIOUS: Allisha Watts’ loved ones deliver letters to DA to push case forward)

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.