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Updated at 8:09 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, with photos of Taja Whiteside and more information.

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Taja Whiteside / Contributed photo by Akedus Hamilton

Chattanooga police on Thursday ruled the Jan. 11 death of a woman in Hixson as a homicide.

Taja Whiteside, 30, was found dead in a home in the 5800 block of Moody Sawyer Road just before noon.

The manner of death was not immediately clear, but over the course of the investigation and after a discussion with the Hamilton County Medical Examiner, police are now investigating it as a homicide.

An official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner.

Chattanooga police have not yet publicly released any suspect information.

Whiteside, a mother of two boys and one girl, had just moved to Chattanooga from Greenville, Tennessee, about four months ago, her cousin Akedus Hamilton said.

Whiteside was a nurse and was set to get a promotion the same day she was killed, Hamilton said.

"Her job called my aunt and they knew something wasn't right because she was so good at her job, they didn't believe that she wouldn't come in" she said. "They was going to promote her to full time."

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Taja Whiteside / Contributed photo by Akedus Hamilton

The family is taking it horribly, Hamilton said. Especially Whiteside's children, who are 5, 7 and 13 years old.

"Her 7-year-old daughter is still in disbelief that her mom's dead," she said. "We have told her the situation, but it happened so fast that she still, she just does not believe it."

Hamilton and Whiteside grew up together, and they were like sisters, she said. Whiteside was her mother's only child.

"[Her mother] is just [taking it] hard, 'cause now she's getting custody of the kids and trying to get them adjusted," Hamilton said.

Hamilton had just spoken to Whiteside the day before her death, she said. They were planning on seeing a Mike Epps comedy show in Atlanta.

"This is devastating," she said. "... I don't believe it. I know she's gone, but I don't believe it because it happened so fast."

While there is still no suspect information, Hamilton said she believes her cousin's death was a result of domestic violence.

"I told my aunt that I want to do her makeup [for the funeral service]," she said, her voice full of emotion. "I owe her that. Just so I can get that intimate one-on-one and let her know I'm so sorry that I wasn't able to see the signs. I didn't see it. I just didn't see it. I was so caught up in my own life, that I didn't see you crying out for help through your eyes."

Whiteside's death marks the city's first homicide of 2019, that's 14 days earlier than 2018's first homicide.

Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call the Homicide Tip Line at 423-643-5100. Callers can remain anonymous.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @Hughes Rosana.

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