Missouri prosecutors announced Monday (December 3) that they will not file charges in the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who took her own life last year after her virtual boyfriend, conjured up by a pair of local teens, broke up with her.
According to The Associated Press, St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said there wasn't enough evidence to press criminal charges in the case of the Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, teen.
"Their purpose was never to cause her emotional harassment that we can prove," Banas said of Lori Drew — the mother of one of Meier's former friends — who had an 18-year-old employee of hers allegedly create the "Josh" character to find out what Meier was saying about her daughter online. "There's a difference between what people think or what we may believe the reason was that they created this. It's what we can prove and what a jury would believe."
Statements from Drew and the two teens who helped her with the online fiction did not meet criminal standards for the state's harassment, stalking or endangering the welfare of a child statutes, Banas said, according to AP. The FBI had gotten involved in the investigation after the U.S. attorney's office was contacted by the Meier family, who contended that their daughter's suicide was a result of harassment by the neighbors on MySpace. Tina Meier, Megan's mother, said last month that she didn't think anyone involved in the ruse intended for her daughter to commit suicide.
"But when adults are involved and continue to screw with a 13-year-old, with or without mental problems, it is absolutely vile," Tina Meier told the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis, which broke the story about the teen, who hanged herself in her bedroom on October 16, 2006, and died the next day.
"There's no dispute that Mrs. Drew was aware of the creation of this MySpace," Banas explained, stressing that Drew was aware of the activity but did not send the messages. "It was done by a young person that was in the employ of her — an 18-year-old girl along with her younger daughter — and the sole purpose by all parties that were involved in this was to find out what Megan was saying about this 13-year-old daughter of Mrs. Drew."
According to her mother, Megan had been on medication but had been upbeat in the six weeks before her death as a result of striking up the relationship with a boy she came to know as Josh Evans. She learned that he was born in Florida and had recently moved to a neighborhood near Meier's and that he was homeschooled but didn't have a home phone number he could give her yet. Tina Meier said Megan received a message from Josh on October 15 saying he didn't want to be her friend anymore and that he'd heard she wasn't nice to her friends.
When her mother left the house the next day, she told Megan to log off her MySpace account after someone using Josh's account had sent cruel messages. Later that day, Megan called her mother to report that someone had posted messages on electronic bulletin boards saying things like "Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat." Tina Meier said when she came home, she was shocked at the language her daughter was using in her online communications and told her how upset she was, after which Megan ran upstairs. She was found in her room 20 minutes later and died the next day.
One of the key pieces of evidence in the case, a message Megan's father said he found the next day from Josh that told the girl the world would be better without her, could not be found by law-enforcement authorities, according to AP.
"Mr. and Mrs. Drew deny that they knew anything about the final message that went out," Banas said. "You're never going to prove one way or the other."
Following Meier's death, Dardenne Prairie adopted a law that expands the current definition of criminal harassment to include electronic media.