File photo of a sad teen, being cyberbullied.
Hide Caption

Florida sheriff: Possible charges for 'cyber bullies' after girl commits suicide

a a a a
Share this story

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- A 12-year-old Florida girl committed suicide after she was bullied online by more than a dozen girls and a sheriff said Thursday that he is investigating whether he can file charges under Florida's new law that covers cyber-bullying.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said that Rebecca Ann Sedwick jumped to her death on Monday at an old cement business in Lakeland, a city between Tampa and Orlando. Investigators say the girl was despondent after others had posted hate messages about her online.

Sedwick was "absolutely terrorized on social media," Judd said.

The Lakeland Ledger (HTTP://BIT.LY/1ENEGI5 ) reports that detectives found multiple social media applications where Sedwick was constantly bullied with messages, including "Go kill yourself," and "Why are you still alive?"

He said parents of all 15 girls have cooperated with detectives and several cellphones and laptops have been confiscated. Judd said charges could be filed - including cyber stalking.

"If we can get any evidence of a criminal offense, the person or persons involved will be punished," he said.

Before her death, Sedwick had searched questions online related to suicide, including "How many over-the-counter drugs do you take to die?" and "How many Advil do you have to take to die?"

Detectives also found photos of Sedwick with razor blades lying on her arms and with her head resting on a railroad track, Judd said.

Judd said a 12-year-old boy in North Carolina, who Sedwick met through social media, knew of her plan. Sedwick messaged him only hours before her death saying she was dead and "I'm jumping, I can't take it anymore."

Sedwick also changed her name on a free messaging application to "That Dead Girl."

Judd said detectives are trying to investigate the social media applications that Sedwick used, including Kik and Ask.fm, but many of the websites are based in other countries.

If detectives can find evidence, according to Florida law, the girls could be charged with felony cyber stalking because Sedwick was under 16 years old.

"If you bully somebody online and it's reported to us and we can build a credible case, we will charge you," Judd said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More National News
Missing Neb. boy, 3, found safe in toy claw game
Missing Neb. boy, 3, found safe in toy claw game

A 3-year-old Nebraska boy is now safe after somehow crawling his way into a stuffed animal claw machine at a bowling alley across the street…

Male cop dresses as Amish woman to stop flasher
Male cop dresses as Amish woman to stop flasher

A western Pennsylvania police officer says he spent much of December and January dressed as an Amish woman in hopes of scaring off a man…

Man charged with marathon hoax held on bail
Man charged with marathon hoax held on bail

A man who authorities say was taken into custody near the Boston Marathon finish line carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker on the…

Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

Negative campaigning and mudslinging may be a fact of life in American politics, but can false accusations made in the heat of an election be…

Dress codes: Where should schools set limits?
Dress codes: Where should schools set limits?

They're called leggings - popular fashion items that are tight-fitting pants to some, and glorified tights to others.

Boston PD safely blow up suspicious backpacks
Boston PD safely blow up suspicious backpacks

Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that…

Americans to spend $2.26 billion on Easter candy
Americans to spend $2.26 billion on Easter candy

From chocolate bunnies to yellow marshmallow Peeps, sugary Easter confectionery treats this year in the U.S. are projected to be $2.26…

Police: Mom admitted to killing her 6 babies
Police: Mom admitted to killing her 6 babies

Megan Huntsman was clear about what she did with six of her newborn babies.

Family, friends remember Kansas shooting victims
Family, friends remember Kansas shooting victims

William Lewis Corporon was taking his grandson to a singing audition at a community center. Terri LaManno was visiting her mother at a nearby…

Tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing
Tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

The anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings was marked with a solemn wreath-laying ceremony Tuesday morning, the first tribute in a day…