BATTLE CREEK, MI – The June 22 disappearance of a Battle Creek woman is now being treated as homicide by police, who have arrested and charged her boyfriend with open murder.
Derek Horton, 25, was arraigned Monday June 29 in Calhoun County District Court on a single count of open murder in the death of Amber Griffin, who had been reported missing a week earlier. He is being held at Calhoun County Jail without bond.
Horton, according to a press release from the Battle Creek Police Department, was Griffin’s boyfriend.
Griffin’s body has yet to be found, police said.
Griffin was reported missing on June 24 by his mother and Horton, who came together to the police station, Sgt. Joel Case told MLive.
Griffin’s mother reported last seeing her daughter on the evening of June 22. Horton, according to Case, said he last saw Griffin around midnight that night at the couple’s home in Bedford Township.
As police began to investigate the missing person complaint, many inconsistencies were discovered in Horton’s story, Case said.
Among these inconsistencies, more than one witness said they saw the couple together around 2 a.m. on June 23.
It was around the same time, Case said, a 911 call was made from Griffin’s phone in which dispatchers could discern an active struggle between a man and a woman. Dispatchers were able to identify the woman’s voice as Griffin’s, Case said.
Officers were then able to locate and process two separate scenes, Case said.
The first was on Oneita Street in Battle Creek, in the area from where the 911 call was made – and where an apparent violent fight occurred between the two, Case said.
Evidence was found at the other scene that led officers to Mix Hardware in Battle Creek, where surveillance footage showed Horton purchasing a shovel around 2:30 p.m. on June 23, Case said.
Case did not disclose the location of the second scene. He said police suspect Horton may have buried Griffin’s body, but they haven’t found it yet.
Horton was arrested on June 26 for aggravated domestic violence and interference with a 911 call, Case said. On June 27, the charge was increased to open the murder.
Horton was previously charged in February 2019 with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Griffin and, in January 2020, with domestic violence against Griffin, Calhoun County Assistant District Attorney Daniel Buscher told court. at Horton’s arraignment hearing on June 29. Both charges were subsequently dismissed, Buscher said.
Police are asking those who may have seen Horton, his vehicle or anything suspicious on June 23 to contact police with the information. Horton, Case said, is known to drive a black 2003 Chevrolet Impala.
“We’re looking for whatever we can get from anybody in the public about their vehicle,” said the sergeant, “… if anyone saw anyone coming out of the forest, or anything. suspect that might be consistent with someone abandoning a body, hiding a body, burying a body, something like that.
Those with information on the case are asked to call Calhoun County Dispatch at 269-781-0911 or Silent Observer at 269-964-3888.
Police are not disclosing any other details at this time.
Horton is due to return to court for a pre-trial conference on July 21.
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