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31-year-old Deundray Cottrell who vanished Fourth of July found dead in east Birmingham



31-year-old Deundray Cottrell who vanished Fourth of July found dead in east Birmingham

An Atlanta doctorate student missing in Birmingham since the Fourth of July was found dead Saturday.

The body of Deundray Cottrell, 31, was discovered at 78th Street and Fifth Avenue South. Police said they could not release more information because of the ongoing investigation.

Officer Truman Fitzgerald said Cottrell’s death is unclassified at this point, which means it was not immediately clear how he died and if foul play was involved.

Investigators are searching for Cottrell’s partner of three years, who was last seen Friday morning.

Cottrell was last seen about 10 p.m. Thursday in the 7000 block of Fourth Avenue South.

His sister, Angelica Harris, said Cottrell and his partner got to Birmingham about 6 p.m. Thursday to celebrate the holiday. It was her brother’s first time seeing the new home she shares with her husband and children.

Cottrell lives in Atlanta where he worked in marketing and was working toward his doctorate degree.

About 10 p.m., Cottrell said he was going upstairs to check on his dog, because of the fireworks.

“He went and checked on the dog and I never saw him again,’’ Harris said.

Deundray Cottrell

The family was then told by his partner, Julian Morris, that he had left and took off running through the back yard, and they did find some of his belongings there, including one of his shoes and his cell phone.

Morris, family said, was acting eratically and not like they’ve known him to act for the past three years.

The family immediately began a search and eventually called police to file a missing person’s report.

Harris said they later learned he wasn’t actually entered into the system as missing until Friday morning.

Cottrell’s family searched for him throughout the day and night, but to no avail. They did track down Ring camera footage at several homes that showed Cottrell running through yards, and even jumping over a gate.

Deundray Cottrell, 31, disappeared July 4 while celebrating the Fourth of July with his family in east Birmingham.

“It looked like he was looking for refuge,’’ Harris said. “He was running for his life.”

Morris then possibly went missing on Friday. Cottrell’s family saw Morris Friday morning, but did not see him after that.

Officer Truman Fitzgerald said officers found some clothing items Friday, and a resident provided security footage of who they believed to be Cottrell.

The family launched another search Saturday, as did Birmingham police.

Just before 3 p.m., officers found Cottrell dead.

“The events leading up to his disappearance are, in fact, suspicious,’’ Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said police are now looking for Morris for questioning since he was the last person to see Cottrell alive.

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

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