tragic loss

Mystery surrounds the death of well-known Atlanta dancer Deundray Cottrell

Police say they urgently want to locate and speak to the missing partner of an Atlanta-based gay dancer and doctoral student whose body was discovered on Saturday. 

Deundray ‘Dre’ Cottrell, 31, (above) was the CEO of dance troupe Skiiboyz. The group have performed at various queer bars and festivals around the US. One of the other members of the troupe is Julian Taylor Morris, 31. Police and family say the men were in a romantic relationship.

The two men went to Birmingham, Alabama, for the 4th of July holiday. They were visiting Cottrell’s sister in her new home. 

4th July

Cottrell was last seen on Thursday night at 10pm. He told his sister’s family he was going upstairs to check on his dog because of the fireworks. 

His sister, Angelica Harris, said, “He went and checked on the dog and I never saw him again.”

Morris was also present. He told the family that he and Cottrell talked and then Cottrell set off, running through the backyard. Cottrell’s family said they thought Morris [pictured below on the left] was acting erratically. They have known him for the past three years. 

Cottrell’s family became concerned and began to search for the dancer. They quickly found his cellphone and other items. Alarmed and worried, they then notified the police. 

Further searches yielded CCTV footage from neighboring properties. They caught Cottrell running through backyards. He looked like he was seeking somewhere to hide.

Cotterell’s family say they saw Morris on Friday morning but he has not been seen since then. He is believed to have been the last person to see Cotterell alive. 

On Saturday, authorities located Cottrell’s body near the location where he was last spotted on camera. The Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled he was killed. They have not revealed the manner of death. 

“Lord help me handle this”

Tributes for the talented student and entertainer have been pouring in. The other member of Skiiboyz, DeEric Garnell, posted a heartbroken message on social media. 

“My entire heart has been ripped out of my body. When I got the call you were missing I dropped everything, got my mother, and rushed to Birmingham. I never stopped searching for you. Knocking on random people’s doors just to get the camera footage, talking to the Birmingham Detective for hours just to get them to bring in K9. I needed you with me. I wasn’t gonna stop until I could have you back with me.

“Lord help me handle this.”

Birmingham Police issued a request for anyone with information on the whereabouts of Morris to contact them. They say he is 5’6” and weighs 160 pounds. 

“If you have any information on his whereabouts, please dial 911 or know that you will REMAIN ANONYMOUS and RECEIVE UP TO $5,000 IN CASH for your tip by contacting Crime Stoppers. Please Dial (205) 254-7777.”

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