No Charges in MySpace Teen Suicide Case

By BETSY TAYLOR
The Associated Press
Monday, December 3, 2007; 7:55 PM

ST. LOUIS -- People who sent cruel Internet messages to a 13-year-old girl before she committed suicide won't face criminal charges, a suburban St. Louis prosecutor announced Monday.

St. Charles County prosecutor Jack Banas said that while he understands the public outrage over Megan Meier's death, he could not find statutes allowing him to charge anyone in the case.

"We were certainly hopeful that there was going to be some sort of prosecution, but I'm certainly not surprised," said Megan's mother, Tina Meier.

The Dardenne Prairie girl's parents say she hanged herself Oct. 16, 2006, minutes after she became distraught over mean messages received through the social networking site MySpace. She died the next day, and weeks later her family learned that a boy she had been communicating with online did not actually exist.

A police report said that a mother from the neighborhood and her then-18-year-old employee fabricated a profile for a teenage boy online who pretended to be interested in Megan before he began bullying her.

"I think people are upset that a parent got involved in something so childish, and that a young girl committed suicide," Banas said in a telephone interview.

The police report indicates others gained access to the profile, and there's a dispute over who specifically was involved in sending Meier messages just before her death. The 18-year-old, posing as Josh, sent one of the last messages telling Megan the world would be better off without her, Banas said.

Banas said he took a look at the case after federal authorities said no federal crime was committed. He said he reviewed laws related to stalking, harassment and child endangerment before making his announcement.

Banas said harassment and stalking laws both require proof that communication was made to frighten, disturb or harass someone. In this case, he said, the fictitious MySpace profile was created not to bully Megan, but to find out what she was saying about the neighborhood mother's then-13-year-old daughter, a former friend.

"There are a few statements at the end that are a heated argument," he said. "That's why you have a hard time making a harassment case."

Reaction to the case has been strong, with angry postings on the Internet identifying the family behind the fake profile. The household has reported vandalism, including a brick through a window, once word got out about the circumstances surrounding the death. Police have stepped up patrols in the area.

The family whose members created the site have previously declined to comment and did not answer phone calls Monday.


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