CHARLOTTE — Who is Allisha Watts beyond a face on a missing persons poster?
Watts, from Moore County, vanished 11 days ago, leaving friends, family and police puzzled. Her car was found in Anson County with her boyfriend passed out inside.
Channel 9 has since learned from a source there are no active searches for her in Anson County. However, on Wednesday, police searched her boyfriend’s house in University City. That’s also where Watts was last seen.
Watts’ cousin, Gwendolyn Utley, told Channel 9′s Almiya White she saw that search first-hand. Utley also shared more about her beloved cousin with White.
“She was getting ready to open up a group home,” Utley said.
“She’s a driven person... It’s nothing too much that I don’t know about Allisha,” she added.
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Utley and Watts are glued to the hip. They grew up together as first cousins, but their bond is much stronger than that.
“It was like sisters, you know, very close,” she said.
She has deeply missed that sister-like relationship over the last 11 days.
“My main concern right now is to get Allisha back home,” Utley said.
Utley said she and her cousin had plans to attend a comedy show in Charlotte on July 16, the night she was last seen. Watts never showed up at the venue.
“It just wasn’t normal. That’s not her,” Utley said. She described to White what she did next.
“I came back home. Allisha’s car was still there at her boyfriend’s house parked in the same spot.”
Police in Anson County said two days later, they found Watts’ boyfriend passed out in her car at the Department of Motor Vehicles office. A source told Channel 9 it first came in as a medical call and they found her boyfriend incoherent. He was taken to the hospital.
Utley said earlier this week, she sent a message to Watts’ phone, hoping for a response.
“We’re going to keep a positive note that she’s going to be found,” she said.
On Wednesday night, Channel 9 was there as detectives searched Watts’ boyfriend’s home, which Utley hopes could lead to a clue on Watts’ whereabouts.
“I really felt like they went through his house with a fine-tooth comb because they were out there for a while,” she said.
While Utley feels the search in University City is a step forward in the investigation, she’s calling for anyone with information to speak up.
“God lay it on the heart to open your mouth and say something. That will be a great help to us,” she said.
Friend Stephanie Johnson thinks the search of the home should have been done sooner.
“It should have done last week when they found him in the car unresponsive,” Johnson said.
Johnson said her friendship with Watts goes beyond just friendship.
“I feel like in life you meet many people, sometimes it’s not blood. It’s the bond that you build with the person that makes them become family,” said Johnson.
Johnson said she first met Watts when Watts was 15 years old.
The two eventually bonded as sisters at the store Johnson owns in the Moore County town of Southern Pines.
“We needed somebody to work the store and my husband was like, ‘Allisha would be a good candidate for it,’ and ever since then she was there five years with us,” Johnson said.
Johnson recalled the last time she spoke with her beloved friend, which was only a few days before family members reported last seeing Watts.
“She was just talking about her weekend,” Johnson said. “What she had planned to do, chopping it up about the business.”
As CEO of Inspired Visions Support Services Inc., Watts is described as someone who is dedicated after turning a rough childhood into a life of giving back.
Watts is an advocate for people with mental health issues and the elderly, Johnson told Channel 9.
“She always spoke up for people that weren’t able to speak up for themselves,” Johnson said. “That’s why I feel so compelled to speak up for her now.”
Channel 9 stopped by the courthouse twice Thursday. We’re told the search warrant from Wednesday night’s search is not available yet, and we plan to keep checking.
We also learned the North Carolina Department of Public Safety joined the search for Watts. We asked if the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons was involved in the search, and a spokesperson responded that the aviation department assisted with a helicopter search for Watts.
As of right now, the Center does not have an active alert for Watts on its website.
If you have any information about Allisha Watts, her family is urging you to call police.
(WATCH BELOW: ‘Where is Allisha?’: Investigators search home where missing woman was last seen)
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