CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Following the unexpected disappearance and death of a Cheatham County woman, her relatives are trying to raise enough money to give her the memorial services she deserved.

After more than a week-long search, authorities said they recovered the body of 25-year-old Chase Stafford from the Cumberland River below the Cheatham Dam on Thursday, May 18.

Desirae Mathias is the first cousin of Stafford’s mother, Daphne Gillihan. She flew all the way from Hawaii to help look for Stafford, but by the time she arrived, the search had been called off.

According to Mathias, Stafford was more like a niece to her. She reminisced while looking back through old photos.  

“Any pictures that we have of her, she’s always, like, posing and just a ham for the photos,” Mathias said. “She’s just very selfless. She always cared so much for other people, even more than she cares for herself, just kindhearted and full of joy.” 

Family told News 2 they last heard from Stafford on May 9, adding that she had been staying with her boyfriend.

The Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office, however, believes Stafford was last seen on May 10 when she was dropped off along Chapmansboro Road in Ashland City. A backpack was found on Highway 49 later that day containing Stafford’s personal property, including her cell phone and glasses.

“The investigation’s still ongoing, and that’s all I can really say about it. I just hope that justice is done and we find out exactly what happened in general,” Mathias said. “She’s back with us now and we have peace with that, at least, instead of searching.” 

Mathias has set up a GoFundMe page to help ease the burden for Stafford’s parents. 

“She was missing for over a week and Daphne, her mother, and family were not working obviously during that time because they were searching diligently to find Chase and just need help with funding the memorial and funeral services for Chase, the one that she deserves, but being out of work and having to pay regular monthly bills and whatnot on top of that, I just really want her to get the memorial she deserves,” Mathias said.  

Although the outcome was not what they had hoped, Stafford’s family is grateful to have closure and to know how many people helped search for her.  

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“I just want Chase to know that everybody loves her so much, and we’ve done everything we can, and people that don’t even know her have done so much because she deserves it,” Mathias explained.  

Stafford died just weeks before her 26th birthday, which would have been on June 4.

Her funeral is set to take place on Wednesday, May 24. You can contribute to Stafford’s end of life expenses by clicking here.