The body of holistic Dr. Norman Valdes Cotten Jr., 54, who lived in Howell, MI and practiced in Fowlerville and Commerce Townships, was found burned in a vehicle in Pontiac, on Monday. While authorities used dental records to confirm Cotten’s identity, “an ID, credit cards and a money clip with a few dollars were found in his back pocket,”1 as well.
“Authorities were called just before 10 a.m. Monday about a burning car parked at the closed Webster Elementary School at 640 W. Huron, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. After Waterford Regional firefighters extinguished the flames, Cotten’s badly burned body was discovered inside the red Cadillac.
The preliminary cause of death was ruled as thermal burns and smoke and soot inhalation, according to the sheriff’s office. The manner in which Cotten died — whether it was homicide or suicide, for instance — has not yet been determined. The results of toxicology are pending.”2
The sheriff’s office reported that an autopsy was conducted and no signs of trauma were discovered. However, a box cutter knife was located melted to the right thigh area of the doctor with the blade open and two gas cans, missing from Cottens’ home, were found in the vehicle. There was also a full gasoline can in the trunk of the car with a second gas can flattened on the floor of the backseat. As you may imagine, the majority of the charring and burning was found around the front seat passenger side and back seat area.
Cotten’s wife reportedly told police that the gas cans were from their home and that her husband abruptly left their house Monday morning, leaving his cell phone behind. But are we supposed to believe that this sole breadwinner and family man essentially left the house to set himself on fire? Without warning?
Cotten, who was a caregiver for his youngest son, who has muscular dystrophy, was beloved by many. We cannot imagine their loss. Our hearts go out to them.
From the GoFundMe set up for the family:
“The family is in desperate need of having handicap renovations made to the home to make it easier to provide the necessary medical care to their disabled son without the physical help of his father. They have an urgent need to renovate the bathroom to make the shower wheelchair accessible. They also have to quickly either purchase a vehicle that is wheelchair accessible or purchase a lift for their current vehicle.”
Authorities are asking anyone who saw Cotten or his car, a red 2008 Cadillac CTS with a Michigan license plate that said STORM24, between 7:15 a.m. and 9:52 a.m. Monday to call the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office at 248-858-4911.