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A memorial service Saturday will celebrate the life of Etowah, Tenn., teen Kelsey N. Burnette, whose body was found July 4 near a house in a residential area of her hometown.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office and medical examiner Dr. Charles Hardison all were unwilling to provide any new information Thursday about the investigation, possible suspect or any determinations from a medical examination that has been completed in the 18-year-old's death.

"Though we've acknowledged this to be a homicide case, we have no additional details to provide at this time," TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said via email. TBI officials also have not said why an investigation was begun on July 1, the day the teen's family reported her missing.

DeVine referred Times Free Press questions about the time and cause of death to the medical examiner.

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Kelsey N. Burnette

Hardison, when contacted Thursday, said he had been "advised by the district attorney's office not to disclose any information in that case. It's still an ongoing investigation."

Hardison then referred any questions to 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump's office, but the prosecutors working on the case remained mum on details.

Officials in the state medical examiner's office in Nashville said Thursday that an autopsy usually takes 60 to 90 days to be completed, but completed reports sometimes take longer in some homicide investigations.

Sunday will mark three months since Burnett's disappearance. She was last seen walking through Etowah around 5 a.m. on July 1. Her body was found by a passerby on Charles Street in Etowah on July 4.

The teen's mother, Sissy Burnette, said Thursday the TBI released her daughter's body to the family earlier this week but she hasn't been able to get any information from investigators.

The TBI has said regarding past open and ongoing investigations that they have limited contact with the victims' families "so as not to adversely affect the eventual prosecution of the individuals charged."

Sometimes such a situation persists for months, because details from the investigation might be known only to the suspect and any leaks could jeopardize the case, 10th Judicial District Deputy District Attorney Shari Tayloe said. Tayloe said she hoped to be able to provide information to the victim's family eventually. Crump and Tayloe are the prosecutors on the case.

On Saturday, Burnette's family is planning a memorial service at 3 p.m. at Companion Funeral Home in Athens, Tenn., according to obituary information on the funeral home's website. The family will receive friends Saturday starting at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, the TBI urges anyone with any information to call the agency's tip line at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1 on Facebook.

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