A Chattanooga woman who should have been celebrating her birthday Monday was found dead in the early afternoon in her College Hill Courts apartment.
Police ruled 23-year-old Aisha Bearden's death a homicide and said she was found Monday by her sisters and brother with signs of trauma on her body.
She suffered multiple injuries, police said. But the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's office will determine the exact cause of death and when she was killed.
Lt. Glenn Scruggs said Bearden's worried family went to check on her when they hadn't heard from her since Saturday night. Some of her neighbors said they hadn't seen her since Saturday either.
By Monday evening, a crowd had gathered in front of Bearden's apartment on Main Street Court, standing behind yellow crime-scene tape draped around the red-brick building. Fireworks popped all around the public housing complex. Bearden's family sat in their car nearby as her body was taken away in an ambulance. They declined to speak to a reporter.
Neighbors and friends said Bearden lived alone in College Hill Courts for several months and was proud of having her first apartment on her own.
She loved to dance and have fun and had been telling everyone her birthday was coming up, said a distant cousin who gave her nickname as "Cocoa" Beasley. Bearden even had a tattoo on her hand that said "7-4" for her birthday, Beasley said.
Bearden's Facebook page is decorated with selfies taken on her apartment porch and showing her dressed up.
Her family wanted her to be remembered for her love for her mom, Robin "Tina" Bearden, who died in 2010.
The family sent the newspaper a photo of her, smiling, dressed in her best, standing in front of her mother's grave.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6659.