32-year-old Katrina Burlingame was brutally killed in Tampa during the early morning hours of October 24, 2018. She was last seen on surveillance video at a local 7/11 convenience store arguing with another person. The two left the store, and that was the last time Katrina was seen alive. Her body was found more than a day later, in a backyard of a home that was being shown to a potential renter. Now, almost two years later, her sister and family are still looking for justice for Katrina.
Detective: No one deserved to die like this and she didn't deserve this.
Merissa Lynn, Host: Katrina Burlingame was brutally killed in Tampa almost two years ago. Her body was left in broad daylight, until someone found her a day later.
Nichole Burlingame, Sister: Well, I definitely didn't expect that phone call. It basically changed our lives forever.
Merissa Lynn, Host: We take a look back at her murder, in hopes that you can help us solve this "Unfinished Business."
Merissa Lynn, Host: It's been two years since Nichole Burlingame last spoke to her sister, Katrina.
Nichole Burlingame, Sister: I still wait sometimes for my phone to ring and it be her.
Merissa Lynn, Host: Nichole remembers her sister as a thoughtful person who would always put her own problems aside to help another person.
Nichole Burlingame, Sister: She's always been like a very big-hearted person and would just light the room up when she walked in, and would always make anybody laugh. Even if you were having a bad day, she would say something funny and take your mind off of things. She was always really good for that.
Merissa Lynn, Host: Katrina Burlingame was a 32-year-old mother when she was killed during the early morning hours of October 24, 2018.
Detective: Once we got her identified, we knew that she was a kind of transit from the area. She moved around a lot. She was very well known in the neighborhood by a lot of people. She was also known to kind of be nosy, kind of into everybody's business, had a lot of information about a lot of different people.
Merissa Lynn, Host: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Detective David Tabor has been on the case from the very beginning and was one of the first to respond to the scene after HCSO's communications bureau received a 911 call about a body found on 32nd Avenue South in Tampa.
Detective: Yeah, it was about 4:20 in the afternoon. We got a 911 call from a young lady who was showing a house to a potential renter and she advised that there was a deceased female in the backyard. Patrol deputies responded, obviously found the female not responding, and we knew that there was foul play involved.
Merissa Lynn, Host: And from what we've discussed before, her body had likely been there for quite a while.
Detective: Yeah. It appeared so, and obviously we didn't know it at the time, but as we've gone on through the investigation, we can say that it was there for a little bit of a period before it was actually discovered over there off of 78th Street and Causeway.
Detective: I would describe it as a very violent death. Unfortunately, I've seen a lot of death in my career here and that's one that stands out to me that I do remember.
Merissa Lynn, Host: She suffered upper body injuries.
Detective: Yes, quite a bit of upper body trauma.
Merissa Lynn, Host: So what do we know about this? When was she last seen alive that we know of?
Detective: So we know that she was last seen by the store clerks and a patrol deputy around four o'clock in the morning on October 24th, 2018. She was in the store and she had also been the witness of a crime that occurred a couple of days prior.
Detective: And she was concerned because people were starting to talk about that, and were starting to call her names saying that she was talking to the police and she may have been giving us information. So I know she was concerned.
Detective: That night, a subject had walked into the 7/11, and when that subject walked in, her demeanor completely changed. The store clerk indicated that at one point her and that person was arguing outside and they both ended up leaving. So we do have video of her last seen around 4:59 a.m. walking southbound on 78th Street, which is about 0.3 miles away from that 7/11, and she was never seen or heard from again.
Merissa Lynn, Host: And her and this subject, they went outside and they were arguing a little bit.
Detective: Yes. Yes, they were arguing. We don't know the context of that conversation, but we do know that there was an exchange of words. It was very heated and her demeanor completely changed from when they first made contact with her until she had left.
Merissa Lynn, Host: And then later that morning, like an hour or so later, she's seen walking south on the sidewalk, following this person. The person had something in their hands that was shiny looking. What can you say about that?
Detective: Yeah. So the video surveillance is kind of grainy, but it appeared to be the same person that we collected video from the 7/11 as well. Why she was following that person, I don't know. What that object was in that person's hand, I can't say for sure. But like I said, it's the last time she was seen alive, and I know that that was probably the subject she was arguing with.
Merissa Lynn, Host: And obviously this remains an active investigation. You guys processed the scene for evidence. I guess at this point though, you're just looking for that one piece of information that could turn this whole thing around.
Detective: Yes, ma'am. We did a canvass of the neighborhood looking for other surveillance cameras. We didn't find any evidence that would assist us in that respect. We also interviewed several of the neighbors. It is a residential neighborhood, but all of them claim to have not seen or heard anything that night.
Detective: Obviously we've processed the scene, and for the integrity of the investigation, we don't want to release everything that we have, but all the leads have been followed up on and are continuing to be following up on.
Merissa Lynn, Host: And, Detective Tabor believes someone out there does know something about what happened to Katrina in her final moments alive.
Detective: I believe that they may be a little hesitant to come forward with that information. I was hoping that this will maybe prompt somebody to dig down deep inside and say, maybe I should tell them about this.
Merissa Lynn, Host: Because it's the right thing to do.
Merissa Lynn, Host: As detectives continue to follow up on any and all leads in this investigation, they are asking anyone out there who may have heard or seen something to please come forward. That one tiny piece of information could be all detectives need to solve this homicide and bring closure to the family of Katrina Burlingame.
Merissa Lynn, Host: What do you want the public to know? Obviously this is a case that's been unsolved for almost a couple of years now. What would you say to them, to anybody that may have information that would result in a resolution in this case?
Nichole Burlingame, Sister: Just to not be afraid to speak, and just knowing that if we could have justice for her that would be the kind of closure that we need. Not only for myself, but for our family and for the children, for her kids, just knowing that justice was served for her and that somebody is paying for what they did to her. It was just unthinkable. I don't know how any ... It takes a monster to do something like that to somebody. So it would be huge just to be able to know that somebody is serving time and getting what they deserve for what they did and not just out free, or walking around, and could do it to somebody else.
Nichole Burlingame, Sister: We know that she's watching down, and that her spirit is living on through her kids, and that I'm sure she would be grateful up there knowing that somebody is paying for what they did to her, and she didn't deserve this. Nobody deserves it. So hopefully that justice will be served and somebody will, whether it was one person or more than one, they go down for it so they're not able to be out in society. I think that would really help.
Detective: It's hard because we care about our cases. We go home and we try not to bring it home. We try not to think about it, but when you are close, it's tough because you want to get that arrest for that family, for that victim.
Detective: The victims in these cases, they don't have a voice. We are their voice and we're the ones fighting for them.
Detective: No one deserved to die like this and she didn't deserve this. She has kids and a family that care about her, and I do believe that there is somebody out there that has information and I would love to talk to them.
Merissa Lynn, Host: If you have any information on this case, or any others that are being investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, please call 813-247-8200. Be sure to follow us on social media at @HCSOSheriff for any updates we have on this case in the future.