A chiropractor from Howell has been identified as the person found dead in a burning car in Pontiac Monday morning.
The Oakland County Medical examiner identified 54-year-old Norman Cotten using dental records, determining he died from a combination of thermal burns and smoke inhalation.
Family and friends are heartbroken and confused.
Cotten was found in the back parking lot of the now vacant Webster Elementary School in Pontiac; a school they say he didn’t have any connection to, in a city he had no reason to be in.
A cell phone captured chilling video of flames consuming a 2008 red Cadillac, a car Greg Katcher knew all too well.
“That car’s been in my driveway a thousand times. That’s his car, but I didn’t want to believe that was him,” says Greg Katcher.
He’s a long time friend of Cotten, a chiropractor with offices in Commerce and Fowlerville, who lived in Howell with his wife and three sons: Zachary (22), Mitchell(18) and Nicholas(15).
“Real hard working dude, really cared about his family, loved his family and that was his motivation,” says Katcher.
Katcher says Cotten had appointments scheduled in Commerce on Monday, but never made it.
Police say he left his Howell home around 7:15 am, the car fire in Pontiac was reported more than 2 hours later shortly before 10 am.
“What were you doing for 2 hours you know?” asks Katcher. He has a theory.
"I think he was taken by someone, kidnapped, maybe gang initiation,” says Katcher.
Investigators say Cotten’s wallet was found in the car with credit cards and cash inside.
Also in the car, a melted box cutter with the blade extended and two gas cans: one empty, one full.
Police say Cotten’s wife told them that 2 gas cans were missing from their Howell home. She also reportedly told police that her husband left the house abruptly that morning leaving his cell phone behind.
The medical examiner didn’t find any bullets or signs of bullet wounds.
While investigators continue to search for answers, Cotten’s family is trying to pick up the pieces.
Katcher says Cotten’s wife was a stay at home mom and their youngest son has Multiple Sclerosis. He started a GoFundMe page for the family asking for financial and spiritual support.
“Pray for closure, pray for some answers,” says Katcher.
Anyone who may have seen Dr. Cotten on Monday April 2, 2018 between the hours 7:15AM and 9:52 AM or his car, a red 2008 Cadillac CTS, MI License Plate: STORM24 is asked to call the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office at 248-858-4911.