Mom of missing BC woman won’t rest until body found

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — As a second person is charged in the disappearance of a missing Battle Creek woman, the victim’s mother continues to search for her daughter’s body.

Battle Creek police began investigating 27-year-old Amber Griffin’s disappearance as a homicide shortly after her mom and boyfriend reported her missing on June 24.

A booking photo of Derek Horton. (Courtesy)

Last week, Amber’s boyfriend, Derek Horton, 25, was charged with open murder after investigators say they found inconsistencies in his story.

Even with a suspect behind bars, Amber’s mother, Carman Griffin, said she won’t rest until her daughter’s body is found.

“We’re just going to search until we find her because we have no choice,” Carman said.

Carman last saw her daughter on June 22. The mother and daughter swapped messages later that night.

“She left me the text message at 10 o’clock that night,” Carman said. “She’s like, ‘tell (my kids) I love them, and things are going to change’. She’s like, ‘I love you mom.’”

Carman said Amber had been struggling to get out of an abusive relationship for years, and that the young mother of two hadn’t been herself since she started dating her boyfriend.

“She was a happy girl. She always liked to be pretty, hang out with her friends, her kids, spend time with the family. But with him, she couldn’t even try to be pretty or try to be happy,” Carman said.

Carman wasn’t surprised to learn Horton had been arrested in connection to her daughter’s disappearance.

“I’ve seen her beat up a thousand times from the day he met her,” she said.

Authorities say Horton had assaulted Amber twice before, but in court last week, the defendant pointed out he had never been convicted of a violent crime.

Investigators believe Amber was killed at a house on Oneita Street in Battle Creek, where the couple was reported to have attended a party in the early hours of June 23.

Police confirmed to News 8 that blood was later found all over the residence, including the basement.

Amber’s mother said she too saw the blood when searching for her daughter’s body around the residence later that week.

“I looked and they had a beer box in the window and there was blood and glass busted and blood everywhere,” Carman said.

Police have since connected a second person to the crime.

A booking photo of Julice Haggerty. (Courtesy: Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office)

Authorities say Julice Haggerty, 27, was arrested Thursday. He is charged with tampering with evidence and lying to a peace officer in a violent crime investigation.

Police say Haggerty drover Horton to Mix Hardware in Battle Creek on June 23 where Horton bought a shovel.

Haggerty was not in custody as of Tuesday afternoon and was out on a temporary bond.

Police say finding Amber’s body remains a top priority in the investigation, as Amber’s mom is determined to bring her daughter home.

“That’s my baby and I want to give her the right burial and she has two kids,” Carman said. “What can I tell them when they grow up? When they want to visit their mom?”

Several divisions of the of the Michigan State Police have assisted in the search for Amber Griffin, whose body hasn’t been found. Authorities are asking for the public’s help to find her. Anyone with information is asked to contact Calhoun County dispatch at 269.781.0911 or Silent Observer at 269.964.3888.

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