Deundray Cottrell death: Boyfriend's attorney says 'despite false narratives' he loved Cottrell

Birmingham police say they are still looking for Julian Morris as a person of interest in the homicide of his partner, Deundray Cottrell.

Family and friends say they want to remember Deundray for the kind person and beacon of light that he was.

"Nothing will make this okay. Nothing will bring him back. Nothing will make us happy," Keondra Shackleford said.

Keondra Shackleford is still trying to wrap her head around the fact that her best friend, Deundray Cottrell, is gone.

"A light. He was a light and made you feel important. He took time with you. He was a creative person and spectacular," Shackleford said.

Deundray Cottrell (Birmingham Police Department)

Birmingham police say Cottrell was reported missing the evening of Fourth of July. Cottrell and his partner Julian Morris had traveled from Atlanta to visit family and friends.

The next day, police said they found clothing items belonging to the 31-year-old and surveillance video helped investigators pin down an exact area.

They then made a grim discovery.

"Saturday, July 6, we narrowed our search, and sadly we discovered his body in a detached storage shed at a house," Officer Truman Fitzgerald said.

Birmingham Police Officer Truman Fitzgerald says the video played a key role and investigators are focused on finding who is responsible.

"We knew early on the last person to see and hear from him, which was Mr. Julian Morris. We have still yet to either speak to Julian or see Julian. He is the missing piece to this puzzle. So, we have to locate Julian. There are a lot of questions we have for him," Fitzgerald said.

"We know what [Deundray] would want us to do, so we are doing what he would want us to do. We are sticking together and loving on each other because that's what he would do for us," Shackleford said.

Family and friends are working to honor the person they describe as a creative mind and a dancer who was fun, inspirational and a light.

"The love that he's getting right now is because he deserved it and earned it. He's that kind of guy," Shackleford said. "I don't want this to be something that gets swept under the rug."

There are efforts to help Cottrell's family during this time, including a GoFundMe campaign.

Just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the office of Victor Revill, a Birmingham attorney representing Morris, sent the following statement to FOX 5 Atlanta:

"To Whom It May Concern:

"Mr. Morris is a college-educated veteran whom has served his country faithfully as a Marine. He has no prior misdemeanor or felony convictions. Despite the false narratives that are being promulgated about him in this situation, he loved Deundray Cottrell and is currently grieving the death of his loved one. Mr. Morris wants answers as well and is awaiting those answers after a full and thorough investigation has been completed. Under the advice of counsel, he will not be giving any further statements at this time."

The statement did not address the ongoing search for Morris.

Birmingham police speak after Morris' attorney releases statement

Following the attorney's statement, Birmingham police confirmed that they have not seen nor heard from Morris since before Cottrell's body was found. They said they have also not been contacted by his family or his legal counsel.

They reiterated that they believed Morris was the last person to see and hear from Cottrell before he disappeared.

 Julian Taylor Morris (Birmingham Police Department)

While he is still being considered a person of interest in the investigation who may hold crucial information in the case, officials said they respected his wish not to provide a statement.

"We appreciate the community's support for Deundray and his family as BPD Homicide detectives continue to pursue justice in the Deundray Cottrell Homicide Investigation," a spokesperson for the department told FOX 5 Atlanta.