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"I don't know if I can say goodbye" | Family prepares to honor life of Pigeon Forge stabbing victim

Savannah Burford, 19, was stabbed to death outside a Pigeon Forge diner. Her family said she loved Harry Styles and everyone around her.

NEWPORT, Tenn — When Julia Cutter looks at the mountains, she thinks of her daughter's smile. Savannah Burford, 19, had fallen in love with Tennessee.

"All she wanted to do was stay here in the mountains," Cutter said. "She loved Tennessee."

After moving to Tennessee two months ago, Burford was finally starting to make friends. She got a job at the Sunliner Diner in Pigeon Forge.

"She was coming out of her shell," Cutter said. "She was so happy."

But in the last month, Burford raised concerns about one of her coworkers. Her mother told 10News Gabriel Enrique Turcious was stalking Burford and trying to synchronize their schedules. 

Then, Cutter said Turcious became more aggressive.

"She even has it written down, 'Help me I'm being stalked,'" Cutter said. "He was watching her schedule."

On Wednesday, Cutter said she was parked just outside the diner's back door as she waited for Burford to finish her shift. 

"All she had to do was get from the back door to my car and he stopped her," Cutter said. "I tried so hard to stop the bleeding, but I could not save her."

RELATED: Bond set at $1M for man charged with murder in Pigeon Forge diner stabbing

According to the arrest warrant, Turcios admitted to stabbing Burford and told police he had been thinking about stabbing her for days.

Cutter said she remembers Savannah falling to the ground, her blue and white polka dot dress stained with blood.

"I could just lift her. She felt like a piece of paper," Cutter said. "The blood kept dripping all the way down... It wouldn't stop."

Burford was rushed to LeConte Medical Center and was later flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where she passed away from her wounds.

Credit: Submitted

Her family is heartbroken.

"She had a smile that would light up the room. She would make you smile on your worst day," her brother Jared Burford said. "She's a sweet girl. She didn't deserve this."

Jared Burford said his sister loved to sing. She often made covers of her favorite artists, like Harry Styles, Kacey Musgraves and One Direction.

"If you hear her sing, that’s the only voice you want to hear," Burford said. "I want everybody to remember her voice."

Cutter hoped Savannah Burford would start auditioning for the many shows Pigeon Forge has to offer. Instead, Cutter is getting ready to bury her.

"The last thing she wrote is that she never wants to go back to Michigan and I’m trying to keep that word for her," Cutter said. "We're looking for a cemetery where there's a house there that I can get so I can watch over her... I don't know if I can say goodbye."

Burford's family has created a GoFundMe page to pay for her funeral expenses.

Credit: Submitted
"She loved her nieces and nephews," Cutter said. "She loved her family. She loved me."

Family and friends will honor Savannah on Thursday, Jan. 16 at Atchley's Seymour Chapel. The family will receive friends starting at 3 p.m. with a funeral service to follow at 6 p.m.

The family said Savannah will be buried in Michigan at a later date.