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Rebecca Sedwick Suicide: Two Middle School Girls, 12 and 14, Arrested on Aggravated Stalking Charges

| October 15, 2013

Rebecca Segwick, 12, killed herself after reportedly being bullied for months by middle school classmates.

Rebecca Segwick, 12, killed herself after reportedly being bullied for months by middle school classmates.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Monday arrested charged two middle school students with felony aggravated stalking–or cyberbullying–in connection with the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick in Lakeland on September 10, 2013.

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Katelyn Roman, 12, and Guadalupe Shaw, 14, are accused of repeatedly and maliciously harassing Sedwick. from December 2012 to February 2013, according to their arrest affidavits. The case drew worldwide attention after Sedgwick climbed a tower on an abandoned cement plant in north Lakeland and jumped to her death after changing her user name on a cell application to “That Dead Girl.”

“In jumping,” The New York Times reported last month, “Rebecca became one of the youngest members of a growing list of children and teenagers apparently driven to suicide, at least in part, after being maligned, threatened and taunted online, mostly through a new collection of texting and photo-sharing cellphone applications. Her suicide raises new questions about the proliferation and popularity of these applications and Web sites among children and the ability of parents to keep up with their children’s online relationships.”

The charges, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, are a result of numerous detectives’ interviews.

All three girls attended Crystal Lake Middle School at the time of the alleged stalking. Several students corroborated stories of both girls bullying Sedwick on different occasions, through name-calling, intimidation, threats to beat her up, and at least one actual physical fight. The Times account had reported that up to 15 girls had been involved in the cyberbullying, urging Segwick to kill herself.

According to witnesses, including a boyfriend of Shaw’s who had previously been Rebecca’s boyfriend, Shaw had several arguments with Rebecca on Facebook, as well as verbal confrontations at school. During the incidents, Rebecca was observed walking away from Shaw and not engaging, leading witnesses to determine that Rebecca was being bullied by Shaw. Shaw also reportedly bullied anyone who was friends with Rebecca. For this reason, some children did not want to be friends with Rebecca, out of fear of being bullied by Shaw.

Witnesses reported that Shaw sent messages to Rebecca, calling her ugly, telling her to drink bleach and die, and telling Rebecca that she, Rebecca, should kill herself. Shaw tried to instigate physical fights with Rebecca on more than one occasion.

Shaw also instigated fighting between Roman and Rebecca. According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s release, Roman was friends with Rebecca, until Shaw convinced Roman to stop being friends with her. Roman was suspended for one fight that occurred in February 2013, during which Shaw encouraged Roman to “beat up” Rebecca. Rebecca did not fight back. When interviewed recently by detectives, Roman admitted that she “bullied” Rebecca, and that she was sorry for doing it.

Detectives have determined that the malicious harassment by Roman and Shaw was likely a contributing factor in Rebecca’s decision to commit suicide.

Shaw and Roman were arrested Monday evening, October 14, 2013, and booked into the Polk County Juvenile Assessment Center. They were released from the Juvenile Assessment Center the same evening, into their respective parents’ custody. They remain on home detention.

In addition to releasing their names, the sheriff’s office released the booking images of the two girls, which have been included in news accounts of their arrests. The images of juvenile offenders are not usually released by police agencies. The Polk Sheriff’s Office is headed by Sheriff Grady Judd, currently the president of the state sheriff’s association and one of the nation’s harshest and doctrinaire top cops, fighting crime with a version of retributive justice that blurs the line between policing and punishment.

Judd, a media-savvy sheriff, had described Sdgwick as “absolutely terrorized on social media” during a news conference last month.

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29 Responses for “Rebecca Sedwick Suicide: Two Middle School Girls, 12 and 14, Arrested on Aggravated Stalking Charges”

  1. Shannon says:

    This makes me sick that this young beautiful girl took her own life because of these two disgusting individuals. Wish I could turn time around so i could be a friend that had her back. mayb this wouldnt have happened. This breaks my heart. This bullying needs to stop.


  2. Georgia says:

    What a shame! She was such a beautiful young girl. I didn’t know her but her death just breaks my heart. To be this desperate at age 12 is heart-shattering. May this beautiful little angel rest in heavenly peace. My condolences to her family and friends.

    I hope that the bullies will get what they deserve one day!

    Please, raise your kids in a way that they will respect others. They’re our future…it’s on us to make sure it’ll be a bright one!

    RIP Rebecca :(


  3. Jessica says:

    When I was 16 I had an aol account. My parents worked a lot and were rarely home. I thank them for working so hard to provide for me and my sister. I remember meeting an older man online and he talked me into meeting him in person. I only needed a friend and made that clear to the man. When I met him (dummy me) In person….. lets just say he had other things in mind. I didn’t know he would want what he wanted. Im thankful I didn’t get hurt or worse. I don’t think children should have face book, twitter and whatever else is out there. My dad took me off aol and he never gave me a cell phone. Got my butt whooped for talking to people on aol. I was alone all the time and looked for attention else where when I figured out what those men had in mind. I looked at it like this……. Hey this guy really likes me, he shows me attention when no one else does. I was bullied too at school. My parents moved us to a small town where I was never accepted by my peers. Teachers and others never tried to step in. I stood up tho one girl who was bigger (physically) than me (younger in age)… She called me a Mexican loving Wh*#@. I slapped her. She never bothered me again… We actually became really good friends. She had a bad family life where she was forced to be a bully to fit in with her family “standards”. She decided not to be like that anymore. A lot of her family despised her for being my friend. She has departed from that family now. Parenst who don’t pay attention to kids will regret it someday. The parents are not paying attention… PLAIN AND SIMPLE!


  4. A.S.F. says:

    Here is news that is sad but not at all surprising. The stepmother of the 14 year old bully has now been charged with child abuse after a facebook posting has shown her in a physical altercation with two young boys. Said one of the officials involved: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” You think? Child welfare has now been called out to investigate. One has to wonder, what took them so long?


  5. Kelly says:

    Ya know reading this and hearing it daily on the news breaks my heart. I have 10 yr old twin girls and god knows I am already worried about them entering middle school and high school because of crazy stuff like this. I would be the one going to jail for kick a minors ass! Im sorry but its true. So does it make me as bad as them? Probably. Do I give a damn? No. My kids know better than to treat another PERSON like this and have compassion for PEOPLE. The ones that do the bullying…..well their PARENTS have not taught them properly or given them the guidance and love all KIDS HALF TO HAVE in order to function in this world!!!
    I mean I would tear my kids ass up if I even thought they were doing this to another child, come on ADULTS YOUR TALKING 12 years old????? get a clue man.
    So what if DCF gets their nosy ass in the picture at least you know you are doing right by your children even if your not allowed to spank your children these days if they were taught morals and self respect and have GOD and discipline then you probably dont need to spank them. Heck I dont half to spank mine, but damn if they would still do something evil like this without something major happening. I dont know what I would do and I dont really want to think about it because I would be so pissed it would not be good this I do know. I am so for home schooling and everyday when I see these people doing this to one another I am so glad that I am the way I am regardless of what anyone thinks.


  6. Anonymous says:

    I am a couple years younger then rebecca and I have friends that are her age and I would have love tobe hr friend and stand u to those to mean grls I woudve called the poic thts how muchi would want to help her if I could


  7. Anonymous pegasister says:

    I’m glad the girls got arrested, but its heartbreaking how the story of Rebecca Sedwick died. Those girls, if they were in Texas, would probably not have even been released to their parents! They probably would have gotten 25 years to life!


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