Martha Burton tells PEOPLE Tessa Majors was attending Barnard on a scholarship

By Chris Harris and Diane Herbst
December 12, 2019 03:06 PM
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This weekend, freshman Tessa Majors was supposed to head home to Virginia for the holidays after completing her first semester at Barnard College.

Unfortunately, the 18-year-old was violently attacked Wednesday evening inside New York City’s Morningside Park — stabbed multiple times by an unknown assailant, later dying at a nearby hospital.

Her grandmother, Martha Burton, tells PEOPLE it is hard to comprehend that Tessa is gone.

“She had a younger brother, two years younger,” Burton says. “I am praying for him. They were so close, I never saw them fight. It’s so hard for him.”

Burton says Tessa’s brother and parents are currently in New York City to claim her body.

Burton, 87, of Nashville, Tennessee, tells PEOPLE her granddaughter was attending Barnard College on a scholarship.

“Tessa was a beautiful person, she was very talented,” Burton explains. “She played guitar, mandolin and piano. She invented songs and melodies and was real talented.”

Tessa was in a band called Patient 0, and was considering a journalism program.

According to Burton, Tessa grew up primarily in a small town in Virginia called Waynesboro, where “we were raised to not lock our doors.” She and her family moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, a few years ago.

Tessa was enjoying her new life in New York City, says Burton, noting, “She seemed real happy.”

Burton recalled the last time she saw her granddaughter over the summer.

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“She was here in July [in Nashville],” she said. “We had a party for our 68th anniversary, and Tessa sang a song she had written and played her guitar. And she spoke about how her Mimi and grandpa meant a lot to her.”

A 16-year-old suspect is said to be in custody, but police have yet to confirm the teen’s name or whether he is connected to Tessa’s murder.