Gay student dies under “suspicious” circumstances as police hunt for his boyfriend

Gay student dies under “suspicious” circumstances as police hunt for his boyfriend
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Deundray Dominique Cottrell, a 31-year-old gay man from Atlanta, was found dead by Alabama police on Saturday, reported.

Cottrell was reported missing by his sister, Angelica Harris, whom he was visiting in Birmingham with his boyfriend, Julian Morris, for the Fourth of July. Morris has been identified as a person of interest in the investigation by the Birmingham police department.

Harris said that when fireworks started going off around 10 p.m., Cottrell went to check on his dog. “He went and checked on the dog and I never saw him again,” Harris said.

Ring cameras in the surrounding area recorded Cottrell sprinting through yards and jumping over gates. Harris said that “it looked like he was looking for refuge. He was running for his life.”

Morris told Harris that Cottrell began running through the backyard. One of Cottrel’s shoes and his cell phone were later found there.

Family told that “Morris was acting erratically and not like they’ve known him to act for the past three years.” The couple had been dating for three years at the time of Cottrell’s death.

Cottrell’s body was found in the shed of a vacant house in Birmingham, and his death is being treated as a homicide, according to a press release from the Birmingham police. On Facebook, the police requested help locating Morris in relation to the investigation.

Though Cottrell’s family immediately began searching for him and reported him as missing, they found out that Cottrell wasn’t entered into police systems as missing until Friday morning.

Harris told WSBTV that Morris did not join the search.

“While we looked – Julian didn’t,” Harris said, “At one point when everybody was searching, Julian had fixed a plate and was sitting there eating, and he looked at me and said ‘omg the food is so good.”

“Julian knows everything and he made a point to keep reminding me throughout his rants that he was a Marine,” Harris said. The family did not see Morris after Friday morning, and for a period believed him to be missing too.

Police officer Truman Fitzgerald said that “the events leading up to his disappearance are, in fact, suspicious.”

Cottrell was a student, working towards a doctorate in Atlanta, where he lived. He worked in marketing and also was the CEO of Skiiboyz Entertainment. Cottrell was in a dance trio with Morris and another man, DeEric Garnell.

Garnell mourned Cottrell on Instagram, writing “We love you, we miss you. No one can ever replace you. I love you beyond death and I know I will come home to you when it’s time. Love you forever Drey.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.

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