In a parent's worst-nightmare scenario, a girl on the cusp of high school slipped a bottle of vodka from a kitchen cupboard into her bedroom to share with three friends sleeping over at her hillside home north of Santa Rosa.
By morning, she was dead in her own vomit.
Investigators believe Takeimi Rao, 14, a popular A student headed for Mario Carrillo High School next month, may have died in her sleep Sunday morning after drinking soda mixed with vodka.
News of her death spread quickly through Facebook and cellphone messages as friends offered condolences and sought information.
Sonoma County sheriff's officials said Monday it remained unclear if Rao died of alcohol poisoning or from choking on her vomit.
"She was one of those girls who was just the most respectful kid; you want your kids to hang out with her because she was that good of a girl," said Angie Phillips, 36, of Santa Rosa, whose daughter was Rao's close friend. "That's why it's so troubling."
The teenager, daughter of Aleae Pennette and stepdaughter of Scott Moyer, had recently graduated from Rincon Valley Middle School.
She was an "outstanding student" who excelled in the arts, said Matt Marshall, the principal.
The results of an autopsy conducted Monday were inconclusive, said Assistant Sonoma County Sheriff Lorenzo Due?s. A final cause of death will await results of toxicology tests, which could take several weeks.
Investigators would not release the names of the three teenage girls who spent the night at their friend's home in the exclusive Foothills development off Mark West Springs Road, an enclave of large homes mostly hidden behind gates on sprawling wooded lots.
Beyond a tidy backyard, Rao's home faces south and overlooks the Santa Rosa Plain.
The four girls had eaten hamburgers together for dinner Saturday and gone to Rao's home for their sleepover.
At about 2 or 3 a.m., Pennette awoke when two of the girls became ill, sheriff's officials said. She tended to the girls through bouts of vomiting and put them back to bed. About an hour later, she awoke again when Rao and another girl were up and vomiting. She cared for them and put them back to bed, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Pennette told investigators that she was unaware that her daughter had been drinking and believed the girls had suffered food poisoning, Due?s said.
By 9 a.m., two girls had gone home and one was in the shower when either Pennette or Moyer tried to rouse Rao, Due?s said.
"She was unresponsive," he said.
The three girls told authorities that their friend had mixed soda and vodka into a water bottle that they passed around. They said they "didn't like the taste," according to Due?s.
It was unclear how much Rao or the others drank. At least one girl told authorities that she'd taken just a few sips.
The girls were taken to local hospitals to be evaluated, but it had been at least 12 hours since they were believed to have consumed alcohol and it wasn't clear whether toxicology tests would show how much or what they consumed, Due?s said.
"At this point, we are looking at it as an accident," he said.
Monday evening, Williams and her husband John Caster brought groceries to Pennette and her husband. Rao has been friends with their daughter since Rao moved to the area in elementary school.