Gay student dies in ‘suspicious’ circumstances while police search for his boyfriend
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Gay student dies in ‘suspicious’ circumstances while police search for his boyfriend

On Saturday, Alabama police found the body of 31-year-old gay Atlanta man Deundray Dominique Cottrell, AL.com reports.

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

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

Ring cameras in the area captured Cottrell sprinting through yards and jumping gates. Harris said it “looked like he was running for cover. He was running for his life.”

Morris told Harris that Cottrell began running through the yard. One of Cottrell’s shoes and his cellphone were later found there.

The family told AL.com that “Morris was acting unpredictably and unlike the person they knew him to be over 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 home in Birmingham, and his death is being treated as a homicide, according to a news release from Birmingham Police. On Facebook, police asked for help locating Morris in connection with the investigation.

Although Cottrell’s family immediately began searching for him and reported him missing, it was discovered that Cottrell was not listed in police systems as a missing person until Friday morning.

Harris told WSBTV that Morris was not involved in the search.

“While we were searching, Julian wasn’t,” Harris said. “At one point, while everyone was searching, Julian had a plate ready, was sitting there eating, and he looked at me and said, ‘Oh my God, the food is so good.’”

“Julian knows everything and he always reminded me in his statements that he was a Marine,” Harris said. The family did not see Morris after Friday morning and for a time believed he, too, was missing.

Police Officer Truman Fitzgerald stated that “the events that led to his disappearance are indeed suspicious.”

Cottrell was a student working on his Ph.D. in Atlanta, where he lived. He worked in marketing and was also 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 will ever replace you. I love you in death and I know I will come home to you when the time is right. I love you forever Drey.”

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

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