Jessica Funk-Haslam murder case update

6:34 PM, Mar 15, 2012   |    comments
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RANCHO CORDOVA, CA - Sacramento County sheriff's detectives believe they have narrowed the time and location where an Albert Einstein Middle School eighth-grader was murdered 10 days ago.

According to sheriff's detective Tony Turnbull, 13-year-old Jessica Funk-Haslam was slain near the dugout of a baseball field at Rosemont Community Park where she was found and there was no other crime scene. A woman, who was walking through the park on March 6, found the teen's body and called police.

The Sacramento County coroner said the cause of death was a combination of blunt force trauma to the head, asphyxia and a stab wound to the neck.

Investigators did not find a weapon at the crime scene, but it appears the killer used an edged weapon, Turnbull said. 

Detectives believe Jessica was murdered sometime between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday, March 5 and they learned Funk-Haslam took a light rail train and bus to get to the park, according to Turnbull.

"Jessica was there for a lengthy period of time before she died," said Turnbull. "It doesn't appear to us to be any kind of murder in terms of it was just a chance meeting and bam it happened. We think she was there at least for some period of time with somebody that she knew or somebody she was comfortable with."

A neighbor reported hearing screams between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. the night Jessica went missing. 

"(The neighbor) had talked about it just being a very short duration scream, two to three seconds, that was unlike any other playful scream," Turnbull said.

In addition, detectives received surveillance video from a home near the park, which shows a person running very fast near the intersection of Rosemont Drive and Contempo Drive. The person was seen on video during the same time frame that detectives believe Jessica was murdered. 

Turnbull said the person has not been identified and is not a suspect, but detectives would like to talk to him or her to find out if the individual has any information abut the crime.

"I want to give her justice. It's sad knowing that someone died down the street from me, especially a little girl," said Heather Ervin, whose step-father provided detectives with the surveillance video.

The cameras were installed two years ago after break-ins in the neighborhood, Ervin said.

Detectives also recovered surveillance video from Albert Einstein Middle School. According to Turnbull, five men -- who appear to be teenagers to early adults -- were seen on the video entering the park between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Detectives are trying to identify the men, who they believe may have seen Jessica at the park.

Investigators have not named a suspect in the teen's murder, but they have interviewed between 50 and 100 students to confirm their alibis, Turnbull said.

Jessica's mother, Tara Funk-Haslam, previously said that Jessica "voluntarily" left her phone at home when she ran away. She said Jessica wanted to meet someone.

It's still uknown who Jessica wanted to meet when she left home on Monday evening, said Turnbull.

"Nobody has a right to take anybody's life, let alone a 13-year-old girl who is pretty innocent," said Turnbull.

Detectives can be contacted at (916) 874-5115, Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP, or send a text message tip to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

A fundraiser to help with Jessica's funeral expenses is scheduled for Friday at Perko's Cafe and Grill at 9647 Micron Avenue.  A portion of sales from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. will be donated to the teen's fund.


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