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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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April072008

The Megan Meier Tragedy: A Perpetrator Speaks

The sad case of Megan Meier, the girl who killed herself after being bullied by her neighbors in an online hoax, is back in the news again. One of the perpetrators of the hoax is speaking out for the first time, as federal prosecutors explore filing charges against the mother at the center of the hoax.

It was perhaps the most disturbing cyberbullying case reported last year. As I blogged last November, a teenage girl named Megan Meier killed herself after receiving an online message stating “The world would be a better place without you.” The message appeared to come from a local boy named Josh Evans, but in reality he was a fake MySpace account created by a local woman, Lori Drew, and her friend Ashley Grills, so they could snoop on Meier to see what she thought of Drew’s teenaged daughter.

This past week, Grills spoke out for the first time on ABC News. “We were just combining ideas about how we can figure out what Megan was saying about Lori’s daughter,” the 19-year-old explained. Creating a fake MySpace account seemed like a good way to go, because they could use the profile to message back and forth with Meier.

Their disturbed plan took a turn for the worse as Meier grew fond of the boy she thought she was corresponding with. “She was wanting to meet him … and me and Lori’s daughter were both telling Lori that we thought it was going too far ‘cause none of us can meet her, none of us are guys,” Grills said. “And she [Lori Drew] was like, it’s fine, you know, we can set her up. We can have her go meet him at the mall and go there and just laugh at her, and I thought that was wrong.”

Rather than setting up Meier with the embarrassment of a public rendezvous, they decided to break up the “relationship” by messaging her online. “I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace,” Grills said. Meghan’s response to the final message was to hang herself in her closet.

“I was in shock,” Grills continued. “I went back and Curt [Lori Drew’s husband] was yelling at us to get rid of the MySpace, so we did that. And then I just sat down and didn’t say anything.”

“I thought it was my fault,” Grills concluded. “[Lori Drew] had then finally mentioned that Megan was depressed and suicidal. She says, ‘And maybe we pushed her overboard.’”

From all accounts, it seems as if it was their fault. Outrage quickly spread around the country as the media covered Megan’s death, and local prosecutors explored the possibility of arresting Lori Drew. But they couldn’t find any law on the books that was applicable for their conduct, so no charges were ever filed.

Now, though, the feds are involved. Justice Department officials are investigating it from a very different angle - not as a case of harassment against Megan, but as a case of fraud perpetuated against MySpace. Whether or not they file charges against Drew or Grills remains to be seen. Meanwhile, a teenager is dead, her family shattered - and I continue to be filled with disgust. -andy

Filed under : Safety

Responses

When I first heard about this case I was shocked that those women couldn’t be charged with anything! I’m hoping that something is done to (at least) set a precedent.

Shame on ABC news for giving this scummy woman national attention in their ever-lasting quest for ratings.

We worry about the terrorists, and our children are in far more danger from the creep down the street. My heart goes out to Megan’s parents, they didn’t deserve this, no one does.

I would have expected this kind of stupid behavior from MS or HS kids, but not adults! What were they thinking!

I used this story as a teaching tool for my fourth and fifth graders when it came out. They were stunned and horrified—as they should be. It also made them aware that all may not be as it seems in the online world; a valuable lesson for persons of all ages.

those people should be accused of assist of suicide!!!

MY GOD, A CHILD KILLED HERSELF OVER THE LOSS OF AN IMAGINARY BOYFRIEND. No, she killed herself over an empty life, thrown away by the restless death rattle of the American dream. No one is home for our children; not the harried parents, nor the scattered families, nor the over-burdened schools, and certainly not BIG media.

Wake up, people. SLOW DOWN. PAY ATTENTION. ACT! TAKE YOUR POWER BACK. There’s POWER in numbers. DEMAND your congressmen LISTEN. TELL THEM that you want the war ended and our poor, sad soldier children returned to their homes; that environmental concerns should be funded because our lives depend on it; that you want the schools funded adequately; that health plans should make care accessible and affordable.

Your congressmen want to be re-elected. You can do it nicely or any way you want, but do it. THE ALTERNATIVE IS THE CONTINUING DEATH OF OUR CHILDREN WHO KILL THEMSELVES OVER THE LOSS OF IMAGINARY BOYFRIENDS. So terribly, terribly sad.


It’s a set up, folks. The government spends OUR time, OUR money, and OUR poor soldiers’ souls staying in Iraq so that their cronies can make billions of dollars. Meanwhile, the Republican-led government encourages our real enemies, greed and ignorance, because they lead to compliance with the government’s conduct and acceptance of the lack of support of American values.

Instead of parents having time to be with their children, everyone is working to pay for the war. When they aren’t working, they’re running from one corner to the next. And the health plans that should be offering support in the form of paying for mental health care, instead put limits on accessibility but no limits on cost.

This poor child should have been able to confide in someone. If she was depressed, why wasn’t she being assisted by someone? There’s more interest now in Britney Spears or Tom Cruise than in our own country’s rolling ever faster down the slippery slope to the end of America as we know it.

WAKE UP, PEOPLE.

More…
I read last week that many of our congressmen have stock in the companies that are making billions of dollars from the war; so are the friends of VP Cheney.

We hear of many cases of child victims that sacrifice their lives as a result of lack of understanding from all possible ‘directions’. A week ago a girl hanged herself just because had been recorded drunk on a scout camping and shown to the others.

Megan Meier seems to have been so sensitive, that she would take her own life over an assumed internet “love interest”gone bad. I am not sure but there seems to me to have been something really pathological in Meier’s psyche, something so vulnerable and susceptible to have merited some special concern from her friends,associates and parents which never materialized.

There are thousands if not millions of these types of situations online every day, yet generally people logically assume that any ” personal profile” on the internet, any chat room and those who participate in them, might be totally different from the real facts, it just comes with the territory. Was this girl so far out of reality that she built up a prince charming in her own mind ,and invested so much emotional energy into this image that she was willing to take her own life?

I believe in this case that Ms. Drew was incredibly negligent and cruel and should be taken to civil court where she should lose everything she owns, or in the least pay the family of the victim for years. Maybe she should serve several months in jail to think about her infantile behavior, including a civil suit. However I am not quite sure this case belongs in criminal court because anyone online can pretend to be anyone, role playing is not illegal and there is no law that dictates that a citizen must be who they say they are online.

I have seen people doing this sort of thing all the time on the internet to the point where I don’t take anyones word for it that they are who they say they are, or are even the gender they say they are. For any human to take their own life over a “internet fantasy relationship” which means it can’t be that intimate to start with, only means to me that the person suffers from emotional problems and should be seeing a psychologist in the first place.

Yes this Lori Drew is puerile and cruel, but she herself must be on the emotional level of a 10 year old. Does anyone find this case to be anomalous,that is this case is certainly not the normal reaction that would exist in most people interacting on the internet?

Megan was taunted, and it was a set up. This woman went after her, and the only goal was to cause her harm. Is it a match between a grown adult, a mom, against a 13 year old kid? No.

Kids, adults…everyone needs to be aware that there are people online who set out to harm others just for their own entertainment.

the woman who is 2 blame 4 megan commiting suicide IS ridiculous. who cares wat megan thought of her daughter. she made her commit suicide!!!

My son was stalked, harassed, and received very serious and constant death threats over microsofts xbox 360! Yes, that is probably the newest tool for anonyminity that people are using to torment others. My story, very much like Meier’s, is even more sick because if came from ADULTS, not kids.

My son was scared to death, already was going through non related forms of harassment. He even had a chest xray the month before he died because of the anxiety and fear that could be physically felt in his chest.

He kept on keeping on, while we took it day by day. We were turned away when we tried to get police to help us before that, so all we could do was wait. Well, a breakup with a girlfriend unexpectedly, along with threats of being violently killed, he chose to not leave for school the next morning. He impulsively wrote a suicide note and was hanging himself from the basement as he saw nothing to live for, no relief of help from the cruelty this world had thrown at him.

RIP Taylor McLaughlin

I emailed Megan Meier’s mother, Tina, just yesterday. I hope to hear something soon. She got Missouri law changed. I hope she’ll help me do something here in Washington state.

Much respect for her and I pray for her strenth while we both walk through glass the rest of our lives.

My son was stalked, harassed, and received very serious and constant death threats over microsofts xbox 360! Yes, that is probably the newest tool for anonyminity that people are using to torment others. My story, very much like Meier’s, is even more sick because if came from ADULTS, not kids.

My son was scared to death, already was going through non related forms of harassment. He even had a chest xray the month before he died because of the anxiety and fear that could be physically felt in his chest.

He kept on keeping on, while we took it day by day. We were turned away when we tried to get police to help us before that, so all we could do was wait. Well, a breakup with a girlfriend unexpectedly, along with threats of being violently killed, he chose to not leave for school the next morning. He impulsively wrote a suicide note and was hanging himself from the basement as he saw nothing to live for, no relief of help from the cruelty this world had thrown at him.

RIP Taylor McLaughlin

I emailed Megan Meier’s mother, Tina, just yesterday. I hope to hear something soon. She got Missouri law changed. I hope she’ll help me do something here in Washington state.

Much respect for her and I pray for her strenth while we both walk through glass the rest of our lives.

FUCK THIS SHIT

IS STUPID U NEVER REQUEST SOMEONE U KNOW PLUS NOT EVEN WHEN THEY SAW THEY WANT TO GO WIT U SHE WAZ STUPID CUZ ALL THE FUCKIN GUYS ARE THYE SAME THEY JUST WANT TO PLAY WIT U N GET SOME THEN THROW U AWAY LIKE IF UR TRASH

IS BETTER BEING SINGLE THEN TAKEN CUZ U WONT HAVE TO CARRY WIT ALL THIS BULLSHIT LIKE SHE DID SO AGREES WIT ME FUCK GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HeHe. It’s partially the Girl’s fault for accepting someone she didn’t know not completely but about 25% I think it is funny how people comment this with a ton of long comments not thinking about how she accepted him in the 1st place. :)

shush DIANA

HEYYYY KELSEYYYYY

heyyy wat up dopey

What’s up? bUTTTTTERRRRRcupppp?

lollypop lollypop ohhh la la lolly lollypop. Lolly lolly POP.

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