Parents in MySpace: disaster follows (potentially for the internet? See update below)

November 14, 2007 at 11:13 pm | In health, justice, media, MySpace, scandal | 5 Comments

My daughter told me about this story, and when I said that it must be some sort of fake “news,” she sent me the following link: St. Charles Journal – News – POKIN AROUND: A real person, a real death. Alas, it looks real enough (the “Pokin Around” part is a play on the columnist’s name, Steve Pokin).

I find this story so disturbing on so many levels that I don’t really want to go over it with commentary — I’m struck by the level of surveillance (and perhaps judgementalism) exercised by Megan’s parents, but admittedly I’m not a parent dealing with a teen who has issues like Megan’s. As for the rest, any sane person can draw their own conclusions. …Maybe, if your brain can handle it.

I’ll copy & paste relevant bits below, but I’d encourage interested readers to go to the story itself and follow the comments, which are also disturbing.

First, a quick synopsis: a 13-year old girl named Megan Meier, who was just days shy of her 14th birthday, commits suicide by hanging herself in her bedroom closet. The reason? She was being bullied by a “hot” 16-year old male, who had initially captured her heart on MySpace by making her feel valued, but who then turned on her. He cyberbullied her with taunts and finally told her that she was a horrible person who deserved to have a horrible life. After Megan’s death, her grieving parents learn that the “hot” 16-year old male was in fact a fictitious character created by the parents of one of Megan’s girl friends — a girl she had become estranged from. This girl — and her parents — can’t be named, apparently, not least because nothing can be decisively proven against them.

That’s the official story in skeletal form. There are other details that add to “understanding” the situation (perhaps), the setting, the timeline, and so on.

You read it and decide for yourself (read the comments, too — they’re part and parcel of the trauma). If it’s true, then… Well, then the barbarians aren’t at the gates, they’re well inside. Everything about this tale is weird.

A real person, a real death

His name was Josh Evans. He was 16 years old. And he was hot.

“Mom! Mom! Mom! Look at him!” Tina Meier recalls her daughter saying.

Josh had contacted Megan Meier through her MySpace page and wanted to be added as a friend.Yes, he’s cute, Tina Meier told her daughter. “Do you know who he is?”

“No, but look at him! He’s hot! Please, please, can I add him?”

Mom said yes. And for six weeks Megan and Josh – under Tina’s watchful eye – became acquainted in the virtual world of MySpace.

(…snip…)

[Megan] loved swimming, boating, fishing, dogs, rap music and boys. But her life had not always been easy, her mother says.

She was heavy and for years had tried to lose weight. She had attention deficit disorder and battled depression. Back in third grade she had talked about suicide, Tina says, and ever since had seen a therapist.

But things were going exceptionally well. She had shed 20 pounds, getting down to 175. She was 5 foot 5½ inches tall.

(…snip…)

Amid all these positives, Tina says, her daughter decided to end a friendship with a girlfriend who lived down the street from them. The girls had spent much of seventh grade alternating between being friends and, the next day, not being friends, Tina says.

(…snip…)

And then on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006, Megan received a puzzling and disturbing message from Josh. Tina recalls that it said: “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.”

(…snip…)

Why did he suddenly think she was mean? Who had he been talking to?

Tina signed on. But she was in a hurry. She had to take her younger daughter, Allison, to the orthodontist.

Before Tina could get out the door it was clear Megan was upset. Josh still was sending troubling messages. And he apparently had shared some of Megan’s messages with others.

Tina recalled telling Megan to sign off.

“I will Mom,” Megan said. “Let me finish up.”

Tina was pressed for time. She had to go. But once at the orthodontist’s office she called Megan: Did you sign off?

“No, Mom. They are all being so mean to me.”

“You are not listening to me, Megan! Sign off, now!”

Fifteen minutes later, Megan called her mother. By now Megan was in tears.

“They are posting bulletins about me.” A bulletin is like a survey. “Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat.”

Megan was sobbing hysterically. Tina was furious that she had not signed off.

Once Tina returned home she rushed into the basement where the computer was. Tina was shocked at the vulgar language her daughter was firing back at people.

“I am so aggravated at you for doing this!” she told Megan.

Megan ran from the computer and left, but not without first telling Tina, “You’re supposed to be my mom! You’re supposed to be on my side!”

(…snip…)

[After running to her room, while her parents stayed in the kitchen to chat, Megan hung herself.]

(…snip…)

Later that day, Ron opened his daughter’s MySpace account and viewed what he believes to be the final message Megan saw – one the FBI would be unable to retrieve from the hard drive.

It was from Josh and, according to Ron’s best recollection, it said, “Everybody in O’Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.”

(…snip…)

[Now it moves from tragic to downright sordid:]

The day after Megan’s death, they went down the street to comfort the family of the girl who had once been Megan’s friend. They let the girl and her family know that although she and Megan had their ups and down, Megan valued her friendship.

They also attended the girl’s birthday party, although Ron had to leave when it came time to sing “Happy Birthday.” The Meiers went to the father’s 50th birthday celebration. In addition, the Meiers stored a foosball table, a Christmas gift, for that family.

Six weeks after Megan died, on a Saturday morning, a neighbor down the street, a different neighbor, one they didn’t know well, called and insisted that they meet that morning at a counselor’s office in northern O’Fallon.

The woman would not provide details. Ron and Tina went. Their grief counselor was there. As well as a counselor from Fort Zumwalt West Middle School.

The neighbor from down the street, a single mom with a daughter the same age as Megan, informed the Meiers that Josh Evans never existed.

She told the Meiers that Josh Evans was created by adults, a family on their block. These adults, she told the Meiers, were the parents of Megan’s former girlfriend, the one with whom she had a falling out. These were the people who’d asked the Meiers to store their foosball table.

(…snip…)

According to Tina, Megan had gone on vacations with this family. They knew how she struggled with depression, that she took medication.

“I know that they did not physically come up to our house and tie a belt around her neck,” Tina says. “But when adults are involved and continue to screw with a 13-year-old – with or without mental problems – it is absolutely vile.

“She wanted to get Megan to feel like she was liked by a boy and let everyone know this was a false MySpace and have everyone laugh at her.

“I don’t feel their intentions were for her to kill herself. But that’s how it ended.”

(…snip…)

The Suburban Journals have decided not to name the family out of consideration for their teenage daughter.

The mother declined comment.

Ugh.

Follow-up: I’m very sorry for the Meiers, but this sentence, from MySpace Prank Leads Teenager Girl to Suicide, makes me afraid, very afraid: “…Megan’s family wants that family to be held responsible for what they did, so they’re working with lawmakers to pass new legislation regulating the Internet.” I really don’t want the Tina Meiers of this world breathing down my or my children’s neck when we’re using what I hope will continue to be a free internet.

Creative Commons License
The Parents in MySpace: disaster follows (potentially for the internet? See update below) by Yule Heibel, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

5 Comments

  1. I suspect that what they want is a variation on a stalking law, not a wholesale controlling of the net (which isn’t possible anyway). Sloppy writing. That is you can not create a false identity for the purpose of harassing or misleading another. That family ought to be held criminally responsible. They can’t even claim ignorance of the possible ways their harassment could affect that girl (and that wouldn’t be an excuse anyway – you are always responsible for your actions). They knew she was mentally unstable and in court the test would be could a reasonable person foresee the possibility of their actions causing this type of reaction, and the answer would be yes.

    Comment by Doug Alder — November 15, 2007 #

  2. ^ Yes, that’s probably right (re. variation of stalking law), although I can’t help but shake this feeling that the mother controlled things a bit too much. I’m being unfair, though — after all, I don’t know these people.

    At any rate, the other family (creators of the “Josh” ID) really should be held accountable. What a terribly wicked, wicked thing for them to have done…

    Comment by yulelog — November 15, 2007 #

  3. yulelog –

    Maybe you dont have a daughter or were never bullied (I do and I was)- but not to create another stupid law would be great – I think there was intent to harm here (very cruel) – because the family was on the same street, new the dilema the child faced (mental problems) and the adult in on the activity acted as a juvenielle. At the very least when they covered it up – there should have immiedialty acknowleged there prank. These were neighbors.

    very very sick – condolences to the family –

    s

    Comment by stephen — November 17, 2007 #

  4. The solution is simple. Classify cyberstalking as stalking, and then classify stalking a federal crime, same par as rape and homicide one. Then begin incarcerations.

    Comment by Heather Ferreira — November 18, 2007 #

  5. Ms. Drew used the same same exact mode of operation as a child predator enacts in the seduction of a child.

    Drew posed as a member of the opposite sex and spent weeks and weeks luring this girl into a relationship.

    But yet it went further. The adult Drew formed a heated relationship with the 13 year old girl. She worked hard to gain the girl’s confidence. She exploited the girl intimately by posing as a boyfriend. She enacted the same methods child predators use to groom their victims.

    Then the woman emotionally raped this child. She took her supposed love and sexual stimulation and crushed the girl emotionally with them -all while knowing the girl was unstable.

    This adult and her friends calculated the best way to achieve maximum mental distress and then carried out their plan. Even enticed others to join in the destruction of this child.

    There are manslaughter convictions on the books that won based on looser ties to a person’s death than this. Child predators go to jail for following this scenerio.

    Ms. Drew is the clear definition of a child predator. She used the internet to stalk, entice and lure a 13 year old girl into a romantic, sexually sparked, full fledged relationship. She then used that power to inflict Great Mental Harm to this child… A physical rape and mental rape are both as equally destructive to a 13 year old child. Drew knew this (or should have known this) and still proceeded unabated.

    This is so far beyond “Harassment”, this is full fledged exploitation of a child.

    Is the local police of this county out of their minds to think that NO charge will stick?

    Is the local District Attorneys office serious if they don’t think this girl’s rights have been thoroughly trampled by a grown woman?

    Does the DA really expect people to roll over while this woman goes without so much as even a single charge?

    Does even a speeding ticket register a more serious offense than this?

    _____________

    Last of all, the very worst. Ms. Drew remains defiant and indignant. Claims the girl was already on the edge mentally.

    Ms. Drew denies wrong doing and insists she bears no guilt in her actions.

    She justifies her actions as being “protective of her daughter”… Please tell me how she was protecting someone by mind raping a 13 year old child?

    To add insult to incredible injury…. The Drews file charges against the family that lost this child.

    The Drews, in a final act of ultimate hate, seek to hurt this family who lost a beloved child. She seeks to harm them financially….

    Just as MS. Drew attacked an innocent little girl, Ms. Drew now attacks a grief stricken family – again seeking to harm someone’s very life.

    This woman is evil incarnate

    This woman has county officials protecting her…

    The same county officials who would put ANY other child exploiter in jail.

    It would appear we have a few corrupt city officials. Officials who need to be fired

    Perhaps the county detectives on the case need some scrutiny. Did they really investigate this crime thoroughly? Apparently not.

    There had better be some charges…and some heads better role from this complete mismanagement of law enforcement.

    Comment by DanCnKC — November 18, 2007 #

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds.