Hailey Darlene Dunn was a cheerleader, saxophonist, on the softball and basketball teams, a doer and a leader. But it all ended mysteriously in December 2010 when the 13-year-old West Texas girl disappeared.
Through prayers, songs, pictures and shared memories, Hailey's friends, family and schoolteachers gathered Sunday at Colorado Middle School â€” where she was a student â€” to remember a young girl whose remains were found in March.
"Hailey was a doer. She set an example for others to follow. She will always be one of us in spirit," Mark Merrell, the middle school principal said.
Even after she went missing, she had an influence, he noted, recalling how students came together to print banners and hold a "Hailey Week."
The mystery, though, remains unsolved.
Hailey's mother, Billie Dunn, reported the girl missing Dec. 28, 2010. Dunn's boyfriend at the time, Shawn Adkins, told police he had last seen Hailey a day earlier, when she said she was going to visit her father, Clint Dunn, and a friend. She did neither.
For a time, police called Adkins a person of interest in Hailey's disappearance, but he has not been charged. In March 2011, Billie Dunn was charged with lying to police about her boyfriend's whereabouts. She pleaded no contest and received a suspended 90-day jail term with probation.
In March, human remains were found near Lake J.B. Thomas in Scurry County, about 20 miles northwest of Hailey's hometown, Colorado City. In April, officials confirmed the remains were Hailey's. But they have not released a manner and cause of death. No arrests have been made, and the investigation remains open.
For one day, however, at the memorial service, a community focused on Hailey as she will be remembered. Large flower bouquets decorated the front of the auditorium along with a picture of Hailey in her cheerleader uniform. Purple flowers, Hailey's favorite color, were used to spell out her name. Attendants were handed purple candles and asked to light them. A montage of pictures flitted across a screen, country and western music playing in the background.
Hailey's teenage brother, David, sobbed, embraced by their parents.
Once, the family recalled, when Hailey was young, her father walked in to find her holding scissors and sporting a brand-new buzzcut, one she had just given to herself.
The day Hailey was born, her mother said, she and her ex-husband said thank you.
"Every day thereafter Hailey brought joy and laughter into our lives. Very early on she kept us entertained, so full of love and life and a little mischief," Billie Dunn said in a prerecorded message played at the service.