Woman indicted in Missouri MySpace suicide case
Thursday, May 15, 2008; 10:50 PM
LOS ANGELES -- A Missouri woman was indicted Thursday for her alleged role in perpetrating a hoax on the online social network MySpace against a 13-year-old neighbor who committed suicide.
Lori Drew, 49, of suburban St. Louis, who allegedly helped create a MySpace account in the name of someone who didn't exist to convince Megan Meier she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans, was charged with conspiracy and fraudulently gaining access to someone else's computer.
Megan hanged herself at home in October 2006, allegedly after receiving a dozen or more cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.
Salvador Hernandez, assistant agent in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, called the case heart-rending.
"The Internet is a world unto itself. People must know how far they can go before they must stop. They exploited a young girl's weaknesses," Hernandez said. "Whether the defendant could have foreseen the results, she's responsible for her actions."
Drew was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl.
Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Megan.
Dean Steward, a lawyer representing Drew in the federal case, said a legal challenge to the charges was being planned. He characterized them as unusual and puzzling.
"We thought when prosecutors in St. Louis looked at the case and all the facts, it was clear no criminal acts occurred," Steward said.
A man who opened the door at the Drew family home in Dardenne Prairie, Mo., on Thursday said the family had no comment.
Megan's mother, Tina Meier, told The Associated Press she believed media reports and public outrage helped move the case forward for prosecution.
"I'm thrilled that this woman is going to face charges that she has needed to face since the day we found out what was going on, and since the day she decided to be a part of this entire ridiculous stunt," she said.