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‘Where is Allisha?’: Investigators search home where missing woman was last seen

CHARLOTTE — Investigators searched a home Wednesday night where a missing woman was last seen.

It has been 10 days since anyone has seen or heard from Allisha Watts.

Friends said they saw Watts leave her boyfriend’s home that day on Pamela Lorraine Drive in University City.

Officers were seen going in and out of that home Wednesday night.

Police didn’t say what sparked the search.

This comes after loved ones gathered Wednesday morning outside of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters demanding information on her case.

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Timeline

Family members said they have not had contact with 39-year-old Watts since July 16. They said she was last seen on that day at her boyfriend’s house.

Two days later, the Anson County Sheriff’s Office said Watts’ black Mercedes was found at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Inside her car was her boyfriend, who deputies said was unresponsive. He was later taken to the hospital.

CMPD will not say whether Watts’ boyfriend is a person of interest or a suspect.

‘Where is Allisha?’

On Wednesday, friends of Watts, along with the National Racial Justice Network for Civil Rights, called on leaders to do more to find her.

The entrance to CMPD was packed with loved ones who all had the same question.

“Where is Allisha? That’s the question. Where is she?” they asked.

It’s a question that was echoed throughout the news conference. Many traveled from Watts’ hometown of Southern Pines with growing desperation.

“She’s not just a missing person. She’s an important person to all of us,” a friend said Wednesday. “She’s a daughter. She’s a sister.”

Loved ones said they are still holding onto hope that Watts will have a safe return home.

“I know deep in my heart she is waiting for us to find her,” her friend said. “We need her. We need her. We need her home.”

“We know God is protecting her where ever she is, but we just need to know where she is,” a family friend said.

Channel 9′s Almiya White spoke with Watts’ immediate family outside their home Wednesday. They said they are receiving updates from the police and want to urge anyone with information about where she may be to call the police.

CMPD said they are actively investigating Watts’ disappearance, saying, “Detectives are following all leads and using all available resources to locate Ms. Watts. Detectives have been in communication with immediate family members of Ms. Watts and their designee to provide updates and request relevant information.”

Inner workings of a missing person investigation

Policing expert Seth Stoughton at the USC School of Law explained a high-profile missing person case, such as the investigation into Watts’ disappearance.

“That’s much more likely to happen out of public sight,” Stoughton said. “It’s a lot of phone calls. It’s a lot tracking of various pieces of information, cellphone records, social media records, bank records.”

He continued, “One of the most dangerous things you can do in an investigation is make an assumption and operate solely on the basis of that assumption.”

The circle of suspects is most likely tight, Stoughton said.

“Who is in the closest relationship with the missing individual?” he said.

Authorities have not released much information in the search.

“You may not want to share a ton of information with friends and family because you don’t want them to either purposely, or maybe inadvertently reveal information that would compromise the investigation,” Stoughton said.

In other words, that information could leak to the person you’re trying to catch.

“If they don’t know they have to hide, they might not be hiding as well as they might,” Stoughton said.

Time is of the essence

However, time is of the essence, said Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation.

Wilson said a lot of law enforcement agencies could do a better job of investigating missing person cases involving people of color.

“We know there is a lack of trust when it comes to law enforcement and the minority community and oftentimes, the minority community feels as if they are not heard,” Wilson said.

Wilson, a former police officer, was not pointing fingers at any agency.

However, she believes that agencies should take most missing person cases public right away.


(WATCH PREVIOUS: Missing woman’s car was found with unresponsive boyfriend at Anson County DMV)

Almiya White

Almiya White, wsoctv.com

Almiya White is a reporter for WSOC-TV