Woman found dead in trunk laid to rest, stepfather charged with - WNEM TV 5

Woman found dead in trunk laid to rest, stepfather charged with murder

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Ralph Cottenham (Source: Saginaw County Jail) Ralph Cottenham (Source: Saginaw County Jail)
Amber Morris funeral (Source: WNEM) Amber Morris funeral (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

A woman found dead in a trunk of a car was laid to rest and now her stepfather has been charged with her murder.

Amber Morris, 30, was found in the trunk of a red Chevrolet Lumina at Monroe Street and N. Bond Street on Saginaw's west side on April 30.

Amber Morris was laid to rest on May 20. More than 100 family members and friends came out to say goodbye to her.

Ralph Cottenham, 50, went before a judge on May 19 on an open murder count. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. He is being held without bond until a June 7 court appearance.

Cottenham has a record. He served 15 years behind bars for stabbing a woman in the 90s.

"He was obsessed with her. He's threatened her before," said Holly Morris, sister.

She said she and her sister Lareshia Rutledge suspected Cottenham could have been the killer the entire time. They said they had to pretend everything was normal while police conducted their investigation.

Rutledge said she tried to only communicate with Cottenham through text messages.

"I couldn't look him in his face knowing he hurt my sister and he's just smiling back at mine," Rutledge said.

While Cottenham awaits trial, the sisters said he deserves whatever he has coming for him.

Amber Morris' family held a vigil on May 2 to remember her life and deliver a message to the community and Cottenham was in attendance. The message was to stop the violence in Saginaw.

Holly Morris and Rutledge, the victim's sisters and closest confidantes, said they are devastated by her death.

“This is crazy. My sister, in no way, shape or form, deserved anything that happened to her," Rutledge said.

To make matters worse, the sisters said Amber has a 14-year-old son who will now have to move on without his mom.

"My nephew is lost. My nephew doesn't have a mom anymore. Someone took her from us," Holly Morris said.

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