5/5/08

Teen describes role in MySpace hoax

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Teen describes role in MySpace hoax
Says mother of a friend was more active in the ruse than she has admitted
The Associated Press
updated 6:24 p.m. PT, Tues., April. 1, 2008

DARDENNE PRAIRIE, Mo. - A teenager involved in an Internet hoax blamed for a 13-year-old girl's suicide said Tuesday that the mother of a friend was more active in the ruse than she has admitted.

Ashley Grills told ABC's "Good Morning America" that Lori Drew called it "a good idea" when Grills and Drew's daughter suggested communicating with Megan Meier over the Internet to see what Megan was saying about the daughter, a former friend.

Megan, of the suburban St. Louis town of Dardenne Prairie, hanged herself in October 2006, after mean-spirited online comments from what she thought was a boy she had befriended, "Josh Evans" and others. The boy was fictional.

Grills, 19, said she created a false MySpace profile of Josh Evans and even found a picture of a good-looking boy to use. But she said Lori Drew wrote some of the messages to Megan.

Drew's family previously said in a statement that Lori Drew was aware of the MySpace comments to Megan, but didn't send them or direct anyone to send them.

Drew's attorney, Jim Briscoe, did not return a phone message left Tuesday by The Associated Press. Grills did not have a listed phone number, and no one answered the door at her home Tuesday evening when the AP tried to get comment.

Megan's story drew international attention when a newspaper first reported details late last year.

At first, "Josh" flirted online with Megan, but eventually the messages turned mean. Grills told "Good Morning America" that she wrote the message that the "world would be a better place without you" that was sent to Megan, who committed suicide not long afterward.

Grills said the message was aimed at ending the online relationship because she felt that 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 said.

Grills said she tried to commit suicide in the wake of Megan's death. She said she rarely leaves her house.

Drew has been villified by many in her community since news of Megan's suicide became public. Prosecutors have declined to file charges in Missouri, though several communities have either adopted laws, or are considering measures, to penalize Web-based harassment.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that federal prosecutors are considering charging Drew with defrauding MySpace for the false account used to communicate with Megan. ABC News reported that Grills had been granted immunity in exchange for testimony in California.

Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he could not comment.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23908375/


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