by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
Savannah E. Burford, 19, was the victim of a fatal stabbing outside the Sunliner Diner, Pigeon Forge, TN restaurant, on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Burford and her family had relocated to Tennessee from the Owosso area. She was employed at the Sunliner Diner.
According to the reports provided from the Pigeon Forge Police Department, a call was received about a stabbing “in the back parking lot of the Sunliner Diner. A female was speaking with a male, who was an acquaintance, when he attacked her.” The event happened at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The police information then states that Burford was transported by ambulance to LeConte Medical Center before being flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where she passed away from her injuries.
The suspect was identified as Gabriel Enrique Turcios, 18, of Sevierville. He was arrested on first-degree murder and aggravated assault charges. Pigeon Forge officers found Turcios just a short distance away from the scene, after he had fled. He was also an employee at the Sunliner Diner. His bond was set at $1 million.
The Pigeon Forge Police Department shared that their “thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Ms. Burford during this difficult time.”
Lt. Matthew Pendleton is the detective handling the investigation.
It has been reported that Julia Cutter, Burford’s mother, witnessed the stabbing. Burford’s family includes her parents, Julie and Ron Cutter, and siblings Sarah Haling, Sherry Burford, Jenna Burford, Jared Burford, Joe Burford and Jesse Hammond, according to information on a GoFundMe.com account established for funeral expenses.
Details from the GoFundMe.com account highlight that Burford was “intelligent, beautiful sweet and so brave.” It is also pointed out that she had reported her stalker/attacker to her place of employment “several times.”
Burford had attended Owosso schools where she was active in choir at the Owosso High School – having a passion to sing. Jessica Nieuwkoop, choir teacher at OHS, shared, “Savannah was an enthusiastic, kind and caring student. She would always make sure that everyone was included and felt like they belonged. She had a beautiful voice and loved to sing – in class, in the hall, on the bus, everywhere! Even after Savannah left OHS, her friends were still showing me new videos she had recorded, or they had done together. She was a wonderful person and is greatly missed.”