A 16-year-old Costa Mesa girl was found apparently bludgeoned to death early Friday near the edge of a grassy cliff in the city's Fairview Park, police said.
The girl's body was found about 2:30 a.m. by a man who then called authorities, police said. Officers declined to identify the girl or the caller, or say why he was in the park at that hour.
Police Sgt. Don Holford said the girl's body was found at the end of Pacific Avenue behind Estancia High School, near the Santa Ana River.
Holford said the girl was home-schooled and that investigators were trying to determine what she was doing in the area.
An autopsy was being conducted today, but Holford said she appeared to have died from blunt-force trauma. He said there was no evidence that a knife or gun had been used.
Police spent more than six hours Friday morning scouring the field for clues. The coroner's office removed the body shortly after 10 a.m.
The park, which abuts the Talbert Nature Preserve, is popular among joggers, kite-fliers and late-night party-goers who are drawn to its fields and dirt trails.
Police said violent incidents at the park are rare. The most recent reported attack occurred in February 1998, when a 35-year-old early morning jogger was dragged behind bushes and raped. Calvin Cunningham, 24, of Huntington Beach was arrested in connection with the case and reportedly committed suicide at the Orange County Jail in December 1999, after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the crime.
Friday's discovery marks the second homicide in Costa Mesa this year. In May, a man was killed at a fast-food restaurant on 17th Street.