The case against a Battle Creek man charged with the felony murder of his longtime girlfriend is proceeding despite not locating a body.

Amber Griffin, a 27-year-old mother of two, was reported missing in June of 2020 by her boyfriend Derek Horton and mother. To date, she has not been located despite numerous attempts to search for her by law enforcement and volunteers.

Derek Horton (provided by Battle Creek Police Department)

A preliminary hearing was held on Tuesday in Calhoun County District Court. Five witnesses testified in the virtual hearing. Among those testifying were Amber’s mother, a human resources administrator from Amber’s place of employment, a hardware store owner, and two Battle Creek police officers, according to WOOD. One officer recalled speaking with Horton in the days after Griffin’s disappearance. He said there was a dried liquid resembling blood on several places on a car at their shared home.

Battle Creek Police detectives previously have said Derek Horton was seen on surveillance video purchasing a shovel at a Mix Hardware soon after saying he had last seen Amber. Detectives in the case say they believe the couple attended a small house party on June 22 and that Horton allegedly killed her there in the early morning hours of June 23.

Police say that a 911 call was placed from Amber's phone where the dispatcher heard what sounded like a struggle between a man and a woman before the call abruptly ended. Horton denies being at the party and said he last saw Amber walking away from the residence they shared on June 22 without her wallet, phone, or insulin she was dependant on.

Police say they later found traces of blood in the basement, main level, and upstairs portions of the home where gathering occurred at 266 Oneida Street, about two blocks west of Bethlehem Temple Church on Battle Creek’s north side. That home has since burned down in a fire that left one dead. 

Several more witnesses are expected when the hearing resumes, tentatively scheduled next week.

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