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Correction to This Article
- This article on the MySpace hoax that allegedly led to Megan Meier's suicide incorrectly said that a local newspaper reported that Megan's mother, Tina Meier, had sold the alleged perpetrator of the hoax a house four doors down from the Meiers. The newspaper said only that the house was "on the same block." In addtion, the article stated that Sarah Wells identified the alleged perpetrator as Lori Drew and posted the name of Drew's husband and the Drew family address on her blog. But Wells says she posted only Lori Drew's name. The name of Drew's husband and the family's address were posted anonymously.

A Deadly Web of Deceit

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By Tamara Jones
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2008

DARDENNE PRAIRIE, Mo.

Megan Meier was buried in the polka-dot dress she planned to wear for her 14th birthday. She had handed out the invitations to her party the day she died. Her eighth-grade classmates attended her funeral, instead, heads bowed and hands clasped as her casket was loaded into the hearse.

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At the time, Megan's suicide was considered a private tragedy in a quiet suburb tucked between strip malls a half-hour up the interstate from St. Louis. Concerned neighbors embraced her stunned family, and a collective grief seemed to envelop the look-alike houses on Waterford Crystal Drive.

A year passed before the truth began coming out.

In November, the grieving parents told their local newspaper that a 47-year-old neighbor -- a family friend -- had orchestrated a cruel prank on MySpace.com, driving Megan to loop a belt around her neck and hang herself in her bedroom closet. The troubling story was picked up by bloggers, talk radio and others in the indignant chat universe. Tens of thousands joined the ongoing debate. Some wanted legislation; others wanted blood.

On message boards and Web site memorials, in chats and forums, Megan would be mourned, analyzed, romanticized, vilified and endlessly discussed, giving her in death the popularity she never knew in life.

If the Internet had killed Megan Meier, now it would avenge her.

* * *

A handsome high school boy was flirting on MySpace.com. Josh Evans told Megan Meier she had pretty eyes, that he thought she was cute. Megan excitedly messaged back.

On the Internet, she could be cool. Thirteen had been miserable, but that fall Megan had fled the jeering hallways of West Middle School, and the outcast misery of a fat girl trying to fit in. Enrolled in a small parish school, she was reinventing herself: She had joined the volleyball team and lost 20 pounds. Her parents were relieved to hear Megan's bubbly laugh again. Fourteen promised to be better.

But in the course of two hours on a rainy Monday afternoon, Megan Meier suddenly became a target once more, hounded and publicly humiliated by a teenage mob on the Web, set upon in a virtual Lord of the Cyberflies.

Her parents found her body at dinnertime.


CONTINUED     1                 >

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