As day broke over the Rosemont Community Park on Tuesday, a woman collecting cans made a gruesome discovery: the body of a 13-year-old girl crumpled in a baseball field dugout.
Tuesday afternoon, Sacramento County sheriff's detectives took the unusual step of releasing Jessica Funk-Haslam's name and photograph before her body was even removed from the scene in hopes of piecing together her final hours.
By evening, detectives had not determined a cause of death. Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos said only that she had suffered trauma to her body. She was fully clothed, he said, with no obvious sign of sexual assault.
Funk-Haslam was last seen at home with her family at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Authorities suspect she was killed sometime between 7 p.m. when Little Leaguers wrapped up practice at the baseball diamond and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, when the woman came upon her body.
It remained there until midafternoon, as detectives combed the baseball diamond and surrounding area, including a covered patio space where people gather at picnic tables. Specialists with the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office crime lab made a rare appearance, bringing technology that would help detectives build a three-dimensional image of the crime scene.
Early in their investigation, detectives sought the help of a Sacramento police officer assigned to neighboring Albert Einstein Middle School to help identify the body. Officials later confirmed Funk-Haslam was an eighth-grader there.
"We are saddened and deeply troubled by the loss of a promising young student," Gabe Ross, spokesman for the Sacramento City Unified School District, said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to this child's family and friends in their time of grief."
Tuesday morning, school officials sent an automated message to parents notifying them of the investigation unfolding just outside campus. In the afternoon, another message arrived with the heartbreaking update. Today, grief counselors will be on campus.
Efforts to reach Funk-Haslam's family Tuesday were not successful, and a note on the family's apartment in the La Riviera neighborhood asked for privacy. A woman who answered the phone at the girl's grandfather's house said he was too distraught to speak.
A few teens who visited the park Tuesday evening described Funk-Haslam as a quiet girl. One, who declined to give her name, said she had befriended Funk-Haslam after often seeing her sitting alone at school.
Accompanied by her mother, the girl placed a candle and flowers behind the dugout.
Earlier in the day, community members drifted to and from the park, even as wind violently snapped yards of crime scene tape around the baseball diamond. A few toddlers scampered on a playground under the watchful eyes of parents. Three Little League parents who had been at the field the night before stood aghast at the latest developments.
Tina Klostermann, president of Rosemont Little League, remained at the park into the evening, alerting any parents who showed up that practices had been canceled. Klostermann said she normally feels safe in the park.
"Most people are not afraid to walk through the park in the middle of the night," she said.
Joseph Sheen, 21, rode his bike to the crime scene tape, curious about what had happened. He grimaced at the news.
Sheen said he regularly rides through the park on his way to a friend's house and has never considered it a threatening place. But he said he often sees gang members and sometimes girls hanging out there late at night.
"Everybody knows," he said. "Lots of gangs post up here."
Ramos said Sacramento police gave sheriff's detectives similar information but that, as of yet, no signs had emerged to indicate gang involvement in the killing.
Doug Haaland, president of the Rosemont Community Association, said area residents were stunned and saddened.
"Rosemont is a community. We're not that far-reached from each other," said Haaland, 59. "It's still a neighborhood where people walk around and say hello to each other."
The girl's young age was particularly jarring, Haaland said, a reminder that "it's a dangerous world and we're all subject to the whims of that world."
"It's certainly a tragedy not only for the family but for the community at large," he said.
Funk-Haslam is the youngest homicide victim in Sacramento County so far this year; only two victims were younger in 2011.
"Thirteen you're too young to have done enough bad things in your life to have deserved this," Ramos said.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the Sheriff's Department at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.