CALHOUN, Ga. - The doctor's receptionist called Jenny Parks on Wednesday evening to confirm her niece's appointment.
"We're going to have to cancel," Parks said, barely able to push out the words.
"Would she like to reschedule?" the receptionist asked.
"We really need to hear from her in the next few days. It's important."
Parks' niece, 24-year-old Haley LeAnn Stanley, of Dalton, Ga., learned she was pregnant about four months ago. On Thursday, a doctor was going to tell her whether the baby was a boy or a girl.
"Well," Parks told the receptionist, "she's ..."
Dead. Parks still can't say that word. Deceased, passed, gone: Those seem a little bit softer, a little bit easier, a little less ... real.
Last week, Calhoun police say, Stanley was with 40-year-old David Bastin and Francis Leming at Riverview Apartments when something happened -- it's not clear what.
Witnesses have since provided conflicting accounts. Some say Stanley passed away in the house. Some say she appeared to be in "obvious distress."
Whether she was about to die or already dead, police say, Bastin put her body in the passenger's seat of her own car, drove her to a vacant lot and left her there. A woman walking by found her inside the car two days later, on June 11.
Police arrested Bastin on June 13 on charges of reckless conduct and involuntary manslaughter. He remained at the Gordon County Jail on Thursday in lieu of a $30,000 bond.
Moss said Leming's mother promised that Leming would turn herself in by the end of the week. She faces the same charges.
Stanley's cause of death is still a mystery. Investigators say she didn't look beaten, and they expect the answer to come when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation completes a toxicology report.
Bastin and Leming were friends with Stanley. They didn't kill her, Police Chief Garry Moss said; they just abandoned her.
"I can't understand for the life of me how you could do that," Parks said Thursday. "How can you leave someone like that?"
After the police found Stanley's body, her family searched the vehicle. Tucked into the visor of the car they found a piece of paper. Stanley had written two baby names on it: Bentley for a boy; Harley for a girl.
After she found out she was pregnant, Stanley spent her free time on the floor of a local bookstore, reading "The Baby Bible" parenting book that she couldn't afford. The last time Parks saw her, Stanley borrowed a tape measure to see how round her belly was. She had selected turquoise and brown as the color scheme for her baby shower. She couldn't wait to be a mom.
She moved into her aunt and uncle's Dalton home about a year ago after she and her boyfriend got arrested for stealing from Walmart. Parks said the crime was just a sign of immaturity, nothing malicious.
Stanley liked pancakes for breakfast, chicken and rice for lunch or dinner or any other time. She played second base on the high school softball team, slept with a basketball and broke her uncle's driver swinging too hard on the golf course. She sang along to Mariah Carey. She was going to turn 25 next week.
She also enjoyed reading to her second cousin, 3-year-old Sarah Holcomb. Around noon Thursday, as Parks told stories about Stanley, Sarah teetered through the living room, a stack of children's books pressed against her chest.
"Can we wake Haley up?" Sarah asked her grandmother.
"She's not here right now," Parks said.
"Where is she?"
"She's gone to visit some people."
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476.