Search continues for Amber Griffin in Battle Creek

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Detectives in Battle Creek are continuing to pursue leads into the disappearance and possible death of 27-year-old Amber Griffin.

She went missing last month and now volunteers are trying to bring her family closure.

“Here we are three weeks into the investigation and we still don’t have a body yet,” said Detective Sgt. Joel Case of the Battle Creek Police Department. “So, we’re trying to get that closure and final piece of the puzzle for this case.”

A booking photo of Derek Horton. (Courtesy)

Investigators say Amber Griffin was likely killed the morning of June 23 and was reported missing the next day.

One of the people who reported her missing is her boyfriend and suspect Derek Horton, 25, who’s facing charges in her probable death.

Julice Haggerty, 27, is also facing charges of accessory after the fact and lying to police.

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

“As the investigation developed, we got more information, more evidence, things that led us to believe that not only was she deceased, but we also believe that she is possibly buried,” Case said.

And when the word got out, search and rescue groups from across the state made the trip to Calhoun County to help find Amber.

“It’s just something in you,” said Cherie Parenteau, a volunteer with the Alpena County Search and Rescue. “It’s not just a passion.”

She’s one of 32 volunteers willing to stay as long as it takes with K-9s bent on following Amber’s trail.

“I try to get him in the best position where the wind’s going to be coming at him and just give him the best opportunity to get that smell,” she said. “And once they do, they’re off and they come back and tell you that they’ve got it.”

They are searching the more rural areas of Battle Creek and it’s not uncommon for each volunteer to put in 10,000 to 15,000 steps per day of searching.

It all depends on where their companions take them.

“We try to stay with our plan, but if he tells me otherwise — and it’s all in reading their behavior,” Parenteau said. “They will let you know.”

Police feel they have a strong enough case against the suspects.

The goal now is closure.

“From a human point of view and a father point of view and thinking about this mother who’s missing her daughter, she deserves a proper burial and possibly being buried by the person who killed her in the middle of the woods somewhere is not a proper burial,” Case said.

These volunteers undergo consistent training before they’re able to help in police search efforts. You can learn more about the Michigan Independent Search and Rescue on its Facebook page. Information on its council can be found online.

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