JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Brionah Tester, 20, was murdered at a Johnson City apartment complex nearly a month ago on March 18, according to Johnson City police.
While the Johnson City Police Department confirmed Tuesday the homicide investigation is active and ongoing, the department said no arrests have been made in the case and no one has been charged with the murder. Few details have been released to the public.
Brionah’s mother, Kristin Winegar, says she is still coping with the sudden death of her daughter.
“I’m lost. That was my best friend, that was my right hand. That was my all. And they took that from me,” Winegar said through tears.
She describes Brionah as loyal, caring and someone who was passionate about children.
“She helped anybody and everybody. She put people before her. She had her wild side and got in trouble a lot. As far as her heart, you couldn’t ask for a better person,” said Winegar.
Childhood friends remember Brionah for her free spirit.
“She would let you know that she was the light of the room. Because she was, she definitely was,” said Destini Riggs, a friend of Brionah’s since middle school. “She always put a smile on your face. She would be there for you if you needed it. She would put you before herself and that’s 100 percent sure.”
Taylor Gray first became friends with Brionah in the fifth grade and says she will never forget her kindness and ability to make anyone laugh.
“She was definitely one of the people you would want to be your best friend. She was always there for you. She loved everybody. She wanted to be friends with everybody. She touched a lot of people,” said Gray.
Many questions remain for those close to Brionah. Not only who murdered her, but why?
“I want my kid back. They took everything from me. For what?” asked Winegar. “I just don’t see why somebody like that had to be taken out of the world the way she was taken out. I don’t get it and I want my answers.”
Friends say they hope for a break in the case soon.
“They need to be found and they need to be held accountable,” Gray said. “There was no reason for her to have died like that. She would have never done anything to deserve that in her whole life.”
“How she died has just kept me up at night. I can’t not think of her,” said Riggs. “Just the mystery behind what happened to her kills me and it eats me up inside. I just wish someone would say something and stop being cowards.”
Winegar says she is planning an upcoming memorial vigil and balloon release for Brionah. The date has not yet been set. In the meantime, Winegar is fighting for the truth to come to light.
“I’m not going to stop, my baby deserves justice and she will get her justice. In the courtroom or out of the courtroom, she is going to get it,” Winegar said.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call JCPD’s Criminal Investigations Division at (423) 434-6166 or submit information anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 434-6158. Alternatively, you can text 423JCPD and your tip to 847411 (TIP411) to send a confidential tip or submit your tip to www.citizenobserver.com.