Derek Depree Horton led police to the body of his ex-girlfriend, Amber Griffin. The Michigan mom disappeared in 2020, and Horton was charged with her murder. Investigators are waiting on DNA testing to determine if the remains are those of Amber Griffin.

According to reports, the skeletal remains were found in a wooded area of Battle Creek, Mich. after a two-day search. Police used cadaver dogs to search the area, which was south of Waubascon Road. Horton pointed police to four areas that could have held the remains. Officers had previously searched the area back in 2020 when Amber Griffin first went missing.

“Due to the fact she is decomposed — at this point it’s just bones — we have to do some further testing to confirm that it is her,” Battle Creek police Detective Sgt. Joel Case said. “It was in a spot he identified as a likely spot where she was buried.”

Derek Depree Horton led police to the body on Wednesday, as part of a tentative plea agreement, and the remains were found in a 3-foot grave. The Michigan man was first charged with Amber Griffin’s murder six days after her disappearance.

The plea agreement states that Horton will plead guilty to second-degree murder and a second murder charge will be dismissed. Derek Depree Horton is scheduled for sentencing on April 18. A motive for the murder is still unknown.

Derek Depree Horton Amber Griffin
Derek Depree Horton led police to the body of Amber Griffin. The Michigan mom was his ex-girlfriend and disappeared back in 2020. (Credit: Shutterstock.com)

“We were trying to be delicate; you’re using a piece of heavy equipment to bring back layers at a time,” said Case. “You don’t want to damage anything; we want to respect the body when we recovered her, so it was a very slow process.”

The detective added that Griffin’s mother has been notified of the remains and the possibility that it could be her daughter’s body.

“She is emotional, but she’s happy,” Case told reporters. “This is one of the two end results we were looking for. One was successful prosecution with him going to prison, and second was returning the human remains to the family so they can have a proper burial with their mother.”

Amber Griffin was last seen June 23, 2020. Horton told police that he and Griffin had an argument. The Michigan mom ran off from their shared mobile home in Bedford Township, Mich. Investigators later discovered a 911 call made from Griffin’s phone the night of the argument and a struggle could be heard over the line.

Police determined that the struggle happened at a house party in a home Oneita Street, instead of at the couple’s mobile home like Horton said. Investigators found blood and signs of a struggle on three floors of the home. Griffin’s car was also located there, and police believed that the young mom had been assaulted at the home before being moved.

The investigation prompted them to search the wooded area where the remains were found this week. It is unclear what led the police to that area. There they found bloody leggings and a receipt for an $8 shovel. Surveillance footage from the hardware store showed Derek Depree Horton purchasing the tool.

Since the remains were discovered, many of Amber Griffin’s friends have spoken out about how wonderful she was. Megan said, “She definitely loved her children, she loved children all around her, even before she had children, she was really close to her family.”

Other talked about Griffin’s bubbly personality and mentioned how she was always able to make her friends laugh.

“She had a bubbly personality, she loved to laugh, joke around,” said Stacy Green.

Battle Creek police continue to wait for the medical examiner to determine if the remains are Amber Griffin’s. Because of the decomposition of the body, identity can only be determined by DNA or dental records.