Mom indicted in MySpace suicide case
LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles federal grand jury indicted a Missouri woman on Thursday over an alleged role in a MySpace online hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide.
Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis was indicted on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.
Drew allegedly helped create a false-identity MySpace account to contact neighbor Megan Meier who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans.
Meier hanged herself in October 2006 after receiving cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.
Drew, 49, has denied creating the account and sending messages to Megan.
MySpace is based in Beverly Hills. The indictment noted that MySpace computer servers are located in Los Angeles County.
Because of juvenile privacy rules, the U.S. attorney’s office said, the indictment refers to the girl as M.T.M.
Each count in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Last month, an employee of Drew, 19-year-old Ashley Grills, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” she created the false MySpace profile but Drew wrote some of the messages to Megan.
Grills also claimed Drew suggested talking to Megan via the Internet to find out what Megan was saying about Drew’s daughter, who was a former friend of Megan’s.
Grills said she wrote the message to Megan about the world being a better place without her, which was supposed to end the online relationship with “Josh” because Grills felt the joke had gone too far.
“I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace,” Grills told the morning show.
Megan’s death was investigated by Missouri authorities, but no state charges were filed.