The Jagged Edge - Part 1
The recent announcement of a federal indictment issued against a Missouri woman in connection with the infamous MySpace hoax caught my interest. A Google search of “Lori Drew” produced 710,000 results in 0.29 seconds, a clear indication that sifting through the digital debris in the Megan Meier tragedy would be no small task.
A brief summary of the case @ Crimson Shadows
A more detailed article @ Washingtonpost.com
An excellent timeline @ Making Light
Quote from Making Light - "Is this the first or only time this sort of thing, all the way to suicide, has happened? I’ll bet you anything the answer is “no.” Suppose “Josh” were real—would Megan be any less dead? Again, no. Are there all kinds of fake people hanging out online? You betcha."
Questions worth exploring:
Is this the only time this sort of thing has happened?
Pause and reflect or say a prayer at The Wall of Angels Suicide Memorial provided by Kevin Caruso.
"The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center [NYVPRC] reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers - almost 2,000 teens are successful in their attempts to end their lives each year."
Suicide victims ranging in age from 6 to 21 are memorialized at this site. Look at the faces. Read the stories. Learn what the parents have accomplished at Parents United Against Bullying
Real stories on bullying (Canadian)
Bullying Related Deaths (International)
Are there all kinds of fake people hanging out online?
~A Pretend Web Romance, Then a Real-Life Murder~
Quote - “The uniqueness of this case is that everybody appeared to be misleading everybody else, and the whole situation which resulted in a violent death was unnecessary,” said John J. DeFranks, Erie County’s first deputy district attorney. “Ironically, the only person telling the truth here was the victim.”
A more in-depth article about Thomas Montgomery’s IM infatuation is featured at Wired Magazine, Issue 15.09 It is one of the most bizarre stories I have ever read.
Lissa Daly who invented eight different online personalities is exposed by a blogger that was sucked into her fantasy world.
~Beware of online imposters on Myspace.com~
Quote - Just about anything is fair game on Lanai's morning madness show. But, when someone started posing as Lanai on myspace, strange things started happening.
"You see someone on the street and they say I've been talking to you all day. why haven't you called. That happened a couple of times," says Lanai, radio personality. Turns out there were three fake pages, with real pictures... all taking on a life of their own.
Are all parents responsible adults?
~Mom Allegedly Harasses Daughter's Friend~
Quote - An Indiana mother is facing criminal charges after allegedly helping her 15-year-old daughter scatter baby diapers scrawled with vulgar slogans on a classmate's lawn.
~Mother Sentenced to Prison for Party Where Youth Drank Herself to Death~
Quote - A Pennsylvania mother, Diane Rose Adorante, 40, will spend as much as 23 month in jail for hosting a birthday party where Samantha Scheuring, 16, drank herself to death. On Jan. 15, 2007, Scheuring was found dead at the apartment with a blood-alcohol content more than five times the legal limit.
~Mother Sentenced in Suicide~
Quote - A woman convicted in connection with her daughter's suicide was sentenced today (1/22/88) to a year in jail, two years of community control and three years of probation.
~Mom takes kids on drive-by shooting~
Quote - During the arrest, Wright showed up and accused the officers of harassing her children, officials said. When a detective told Wright that he recognized her vehicle from a video of the incident, she sobbed and apologized, officials claimed. She told authorities she drove her son's "homeboys" in the shooting because she felt police were not doing enough to stop gang members from harassing her children, Gillis said.
Are fake profiles unusual?
Dean Tim Puntarelli "Anonymous pranksters who made a fake Facebook profile for a high school dean and used it to send out messages may soon be exposed, thanks to a court order issued late last week."
Quote - "If you're getting a feeling of déjà vu reading this story, it's probably because the case is reminiscent of numerous fake principal/teacher profiles created on social networking sites like MySpace using less-than-flattering information. In some cases, such as that of Hickory High School principal Eric Trosch and Clark High School assistant principal Anna Draker The students who created the profiles have represented their school officials as drug addicts, alcoholics, and sexual predators. This ultimately resulted in the school officials filing suit against the students (and their parents)."
~Bebo cyber-bully faces jail after tricking friend into falling in love with fake profile~
Quote - The 17-year-old's lawyer Jodie Blackstock said her client was full of remorse. She said: "He bitterly regrets the hurt that was caused. He never contemplated it would get to this stage and that it would spiral out of control.
~Fake MySpace profile investigated for libel~
Quote - Boulder County sheriff's detectives demanded records from MySpace.com after a Superior woman reported finding pictures of herself on the Web site under a fake profile named "Dirty Whore."
~Cicero town president wants MySpace poser's identity revealed~
Quote - People signing up for MySpace or Facebook are not asked for proof of identification but merely required to click a box agreeing to the terms of service—not exactly a foolproof system for determining the person at the computer is who he claims to be. The result has been hundreds or thousands of fraudulent profiles, many of them seemingly harmless.
Quote - For the last few years, someone claiming to be the real Angus Young (of AC/DC fame) has had a profile page on the online community, MySpace. Over this time period, "Angus" amassed nearly 25,000 friends and fans on the site who regularly left messages and well wishes for him, often on a daily basis.
~No Easy Remedy for Imposter Postings on Social Networking Sites~
Quote ~ School officials took action and in February, 2008, the 13-year-old was expelled from school for the offense of "malicious harassment." However, according to The Smoking Gun, the parents, Toader and Marianna Osan, have now sued school officials for violating the free speech rights of the 13-year-old.
~20 Youths Suspended In MySpace Case~
Quote - According to three parents of the suspended students, the invitation to join the boy's MySpace group gave no indication of the alleged threat. They said the MySpace social group name's was "I hate (girl's name)" and included an expletive and an anti-Semitic reference. A later message to group members directed them to a nondescript folder, which included a posting that allegedly asked: "Who here in the (group name) wants to take a shotgun and blast her in the head over a thousand times?"
~MySpace Founder Has Fake Profile~
Quote - Tom Anderson, the founder of MySpace and the first friend to all who sign up, has been exposed as having a fake profile on the social networking site. Acting on rumours on technology blogs, US magazine Newsweek obtained copies of public documents like Anderson's voter registration, that revealed he had lied about his age online.
~Savaged in Cyberspace~
Quote - Pretending to be Johnson, the student used the fake profile to send sexually suggestive e-mails to a host of girls from Fruita Monument High School, the Grand Junction school where Johnson taught and coached. Enraged, the girls’ parents demanded that school officials “do something.” So they suspended Johnson (with pay) last summer while the police conducted an investigation. That took weeks because MySpace wouldn’t release the information needed to trace the fake e-mails without a subpoena, although the site did immediately remove the phony profile.
The federal indictment against Lori Drew is baffling.
Overt Act 1: MySpace account opened 9/20/06 using a phony name and falsely stating they were a 16-year old boy.
Jesus is on MySpace. So is Ernest Hemingway, but neither has yet to file a complaint. Tom Anderson, the founder of MySpace lied about his age on a public profile. Megan Meier, with her parent’s approval, wasn’t truthful either. According to MySpace terms, one must be fourteen years of age or older to become a member.
Overt Act 2: 9/20/06 - posted picture
Copyright infringement issue?
Overt Act 3: 9/20/06 - contacted MTM
Overt Act 4: 9/22/06 - told MTM she was sexi
Overt Act 5: 9/24/06 - invited MTM to touch the snake
Overt Act 6: 9/26/06 - altered the Josh Evans profile to flirt with MTM
Overt Act 7: 10/7/06 - told MTM that Josh Evans was moving away
Overt Act 8: 10/7/06 - induced MTM to write “aww sexi Josh ur so sweet if you moved back u could see me up close and personal lol
Overt Act 9: 10/10/06 - induced MTM to write Hey babe call me sometime 636 [xxxxxxx] it’s the cell. I love you so much.
All of which transpired under the "close" supervision of Megan’s parents.
Overt Act 10: 10/16/06 - Told MTM “the world would be a better place without you.”
Ashley Grills told ABC's "Good Morning America" that she created the fake profile but that Drew wrote some of the messages to Megan and suggested that Grills talk to Meier through MySpace to find out what the 13-year-old was saying about Drew's daughter, who was a former friend. Grills added that she wrote the final message about the world being a better place without Meier.
(Note: Ashley Grills is the key witness for the prosecution. The government granted her immunity for testifying against Lori Drew. In an interview dated 11/27/06, Ashley stated that Mrs. Drew was in the kitchen and aware of what was going on when the rude communications were sent.)
In fact, Banas said, Lori J. Drew, 48, the woman down the street who was involved in creating the fake account for "Josh Evans," was not even home on the day several mean messages were sent to Megan through the Josh account, including one that stated, "The world would be a better place without you."
Overt Act 11: 10/16/06 - Closed account after learning MTM killed herself.
Overt Act 12: 10/16/06 - directed a juvenile to “keep her mouth shut” and not to access the Josh Evans account
Tortious act: “Intentional infliction of emotional distress upon MTM”
The actions of the Drews and Grills are not criminal under existing state law, Banas said, because their intent was never to harm, stalk, endanger or harass.
In November, Tina Meier told a local newspaper that she didn't think anyone involved in the hoax intended for her daughter to commit suicide, but that she thought it was "vile" that an adult would be involved in such behavior.
Quote - On December 3rd, after his review of the case, Jack Banas announced that no charges would be brought. In Banas’s reckoning, the Drews are conclusively guilty of little except egregious judgment that set off a chain of horrible events, and deep insensitivity in their aftermath. He invoked the Duke lacrosse case as a cautionary example of due process succumbing to the passions of a community inflamed. “Are you going to hug this lady, say she did something great?” he told me. “No. She made a huge, fatal mistake by trusting these kids. But there are undisputed facts and disputed facts, and even if you believe all of them they still don’t give you a criminal fact pattern in the state of Missouri.”
Next: Legal Analysis