When 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick leapt off an abandoned cement plant in Lakeland, Fla., on Sept. 10, her death was ruled a suicide and instantly became a national tragedy. Tuesday, police announced the arrest of two classmates, ages 12 and 14, for felony aggravated stalking in the bullying case.
At least one of her alleged tormentors wasn't sorry, police said.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the arrests came after one of the girls posted the following message on Facebook on Saturday: "Yes ik [I know] I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF ♥"
IDGAF stands for I don't give a [expletive].
According to probable cause statements from the sheriff's office, the 14-year-old girl appeared to be the ringleader, repeatedly confronting a passive Rebecca and telling her classmate she "should go kill herself" and she "should die." Her boyfriend used to be Rebecca's boyfriend; she called Rebecca ugly and told her to drink bleach to kill herself, officials said.
At a previous news conference, the sheriff said that things had gotten so bad for Rebecca that she had taken to searching Google with terms like, "how to get blades out of razors," "how many Advil do you need to take to die," "how many over the counter drugs do you take to die," and "what not to say to a cutter."
The 14-year-old didn't stop with just Rebecca, who officials said didn't fight back against the bullying. Her classmate also threatened to bully Rebecca's friends if they stayed close, and extended her harassment over social media. One classmate interviewed by investigators said she was afraid to be friends with Rebecca for fear of being attacked by the 14-year-old.
Sometime in late 2012 or early 2013, classmates told officials that the older girl also turned the 12-year-old against Rebecca, who had previously been Rebecca's best friend, at one point beating Rebecca up at the behest of the 14-year-old in February.
School officials then stepped in and suspended the 12-year-old, who later, accompanied by her mother, apologized to Rebecca's mom for bullying her former friend after she killed herself.
Nonetheless, officials decided that her bullying, too, had played a role in Rebecca's suicide. One of her last messages appeared to be a text to a North Carolina boy saying, "I'm jumping and I can't take it anymore."
"As I child I can remember my mother telling me 'sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you,' " Judd told reporters at a Tuesday news conference, the Orlando Sentinel reported. "Today, words stick, because they're printed, and words are hurtful. They are as hurtful - and sometimes more hurtful - than sticks and stones. Ask Rebecca's family."
The two girls were arrested and booked at a juvenile facility Monday before being released back into the custody of their parents, officials said. The Los Angeles Times is not releasing their names because of their age.
In Florida, aggravated stalking is a third-degree felony, defined as "a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person and makes a credible threat to that person."
Sheriff Grady Judd: this is what one girl sent out Saturday after the death of Rebecca sedwick pic.twitter.com/4d3szlVaBF— shannon butler (@sbutlerfox35) October 15, 2013
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