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Suicide of Megan Meier

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Megan Meier
Megan Meier in 2005
Megan Taylor Meier

(1992-11-06)November 6, 1992
DiedOctober 17, 2006(2006-10-17) (aged 13)
Cause of deathSuicide by hanging
Resting placeSaint Charles Memorial Gardens, St. Charles, Missouri, U.S.

Megan Taylor Meier (November 6, 1992 – October 17, 2006) was an American teenager who died by suicide by hanging herself three weeks before her 14th birthday. A year later, Meier's parents prompted an investigation into the matter and her suicide was attributed to cyberbullying through the social networking website MySpace. Lori Drew, the mother of a classmate of Meier, was found guilty of cyberbullying in the 2009 case United States v. Drew. However, her conviction was overturned by the judge.[1]


Megan Taylor Meier was born on November 6, 1992, to Christina "Tina" Meier and Ronald Meier[2] in O'Fallon, Missouri.

From the third grade in 2001–02, after she had told her mother she had wanted to kill herself, Megan had been under the care of a psychiatrist. She had been prescribed citalopram (an antidepressant that has a possible side effect of increasing suicide risk in young people[3]), methylphenidate, and the atypical antipsychotic ziprasidone.[4] She had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, depression, and self-esteem issues regarding her weight.[5] She was described by her parents as a "bubbly, goofy" girl who enjoyed spending time with her friends and family.[6]

Meier attended Fort Zumwalt public schools, including Pheasant Point Elementary School and Fort Zumwalt West Middle School[7] in nearby O'Fallon, Missouri. Megan befriended the popular girls so that the boys who picked on her would stop. The girls soon turned on Megan and the bullying became even worse than before. For eighth grade in 2006, her parents enrolled her at Immaculate Conception Catholic School[7] in Dardenne Prairie.

Soon after opening her own MySpace account, despite her mother's objections, Meier received a friend request from a fellow user claiming to be a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Meier and "Josh" became online friends, but never met in person or spoke. Meier thought "Josh" was attractive. As Meier began to exchange messages with this person, her family said she seemed to have had her "spirits lifted". This person claimed to have moved to the nearby city of O'Fallon, was homeschooled and did not yet have a phone number.

A 16-year-old male named "Josh Evans" was registered on the account that was later attributed to bullying Meier. But Lori Drew, the mother of Sarah Drew, a former friend of Meier, later admitted to creating the MySpace account. At the time of the suicide, the Drew and Meier families were neighbors, living four doors apart.[8]

Lori Drew was aided by Sarah and by Ashley Grills, an 18-year-old employee of Lori. Lori and several others ran the hoaxed account. Witnesses testified that the women intended to use Meier's messages sent to "Josh" to get information about her and later humiliate her, in retribution for her allegedly spreading gossip about Drew's daughter.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]


Suicide of Megan Meier
LocationDardenne Prairie, Missouri, U.S.
TypeTeenage suicide, hanging
CauseOnline harassment
DeathsMegan Taylor Meier, aged 13
ConvictedLori Shreeves Drew (convictions overturned)
ChargesLori Drew:
  • Hung jury on the count of conspiracy
  • Not guilty of felony violations of the CFAA
  • Guilty of lesser-included offenses of unauthorized computer access (overturned by trial judge George Wu)

On October 16, 2006, the tone of the messages changed. After Megan got home from school, Tina Meier signed into MySpace for Megan. She was in a hurry because she had to take her younger daughter, Allison, to the orthodontist. Before she could get to the door, Megan was upset. "Josh" sent troubling messages to Megan, including one that said: "I don't want to be friends with you anymore. You're not a nice person."[17] More messages of this type were sent, some of Megan's messages were shared with others, and bulletins were posted about her. Tina told her daughter to sign off, and went to the orthodontist. She called her daughter to ask her if she had signed off, and she hadn't. Megan was sobbing hysterically. When her mother got home, she was furious that Megan hadn't signed off. She was shocked at the vulgar language her daughter was firing back. Megan then told her mother, "You're supposed to be my mom! You're supposed to be on my side!" and then left from the computer and went upstairs. According to her father Ron Meier and a neighbor who had discussed the hoax with Drew, the last message sent by "Josh" read: "Everybody in O'Fallon knows who you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you".[18]

Megan responded saying, "You're the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over." The last few exchanges were made via AOL Instant Messenger instead of MySpace. When she ran upstairs, she ran into her father. She told him about the trouble and went to her room. Ron went downstairs to the kitchen where he and Tina talked about the cyberbullying and made dinner. Twenty minutes later, Tina suddenly froze in mid-sentence, and ran up to Megan's room. Megan had already hanged herself with a belt in the bedroom closet. Despite attempts to revive her, Megan was pronounced dead the next day on October 17, three weeks before her 14th birthday.[19][15]



Several weeks after her death, Megan Meier's parents were told that the mother of one of their daughter's friends—with whom Meier had had a falling out—had created the "Josh Evans" account. The parent, Lori Drew, who created the fake account, admitted that she and her daughter had the password to the account, and characterized the hoax to a reporter as a "joke". Initially, Drew denied knowing about the offensive messages that were sent to Meier. She told the police that the account was aimed at "gaining Megan's confidence and finding out what Megan felt about her daughter and other people". The neighborhood mother who had told the Meiers that Drew had the hoax account said "Lori laughed about it", and said she had intended to "mess with Megan".

While Drew's name was excluded from most early news stories, CNN disclosed her name through the inclusion of the police report in its broadcast of the story; it was featured on many blogs.[20][21]

It was more than a year between Meier's suicide and the first media report of the Internet hoax. The FBI was investigating the matter and had asked the Meier family to refrain from speaking publicly about it to keep the Drews from learning about their investigation. Shortly after the first anniversary of Meier's death, her aunt, Vicki Dunn, saw an article written by Steve Pokin of the Suburban Journals about Internet harassment. She contacted Pokin to share Meier's story with him. Once the story broke, it quickly spread to national and international news outlets.[7][20][22][23]

At a press conference on December 3, 2007, Jack Banas, the prosecuting attorney of St. Charles County, said that Lori Drew's 18-year-old temporary employee, Ashley Grills, wrote most of the messages addressed to Meier and that she wrote the final "Josh Evans" message addressed to Meier. Grills said she wrote the final message to end the MySpace hoax and get Meier to stop communicating with "Josh Evans".[10] Banas stated that he did not interview Grills because, at the time, she was under psychiatric treatment for her participation in the Meier case. He did not plan to interview her at a later date.

The Meiers criticized the prosecutor's statements, saying that Banas did not interview any party other than the Drews and that Banas was solely relying on the testimony of the Drews. Banas said that the original FBI investigation into the matter, during which Grills was interviewed, established her role in the event. The Meiers have said they do not hold Grills responsible for Megan's death.[24] Banas said Sarah Drew, by then 15, was attending a different school and not living in Dardenne Prairie. He said Lori Drew was fearful of telling him where her daughter lives. According to Lori Drew's attorney, she had to close her advertising business in the wake of publicity about her role in the Internet account and messages. Neighbors shunned the Drews following the revelations.[25]

Internet webloggers posted photographs, telephone numbers, e-mail details, and addresses of the Drews and the employee on various websites.[25] Businesses that advertised in Drew's coupon book business were also shunned.[26] Sarah Wells, a weblogger who revealed the given and family names of Lori Drew, said, "I don't regret naming Drew." After reviewing the case, county prosecutors decided not to file any criminal charges in relation to the hoax.


Lori Drew was indicted and convicted by a jury of violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 2008 over the matter. Her conviction was vacated by a federal judge on a post-trial verdict, on grounds that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act did not intend to criminalize the conduct of which Drew was accused. The government chose not to appeal this post-trial ruling.[1]


When Megan Meier's story was first reported in the St. Charles Journal, readers were concerned about the unnamed adults implicated in the hoax.[20] Later, the focus was on the decision by the St. Louis Suburban Journals not to print the names of the Drews. In an interview, the reporter said that names had been withheld to protect the minor child in the family.[22] Webloggers learned and reported the names of Lori and Gary Drew, after they found the latter in minutes.[27][28] Media eventually revealed Lori Drew's name and published her photograph.[29]

Banas said he was aware of the national outrage against the Drews, which originated on the Internet in response to the Steve Pokin article in the O'Fallon Journal.[30] The Drews have had their home and work addresses, phone and cell phone numbers, and aerial photos of their home posted on the Internet. The Drews' property had also been vandalized. Banas said some of these actions against the Drews could constitute Internet stalking.[30]

"Because we can't prosecute somebody it certainly does not justify violating the law," Banas said. "We live in this country by the rule of the law." He described Lori Drew as "upset, cautious and guarded" when he interviewed her. Banas said that she felt "terrible" about Meier's death.[30] A vigil was held for Meier on November 24, 2007. The crowd gathered in a nearby parking lot and walked past the homes of the Meiers and the Drews. A small piece of ground adjacent to the Drews' house was the scene of remembrances by friends of the Meiers.[31]

The case has caused several jurisdictions to enact or to consider legislation prohibiting harassment over the Internet. The Board of Aldermen for the City of Dardenne Prairie passed an ordinance on November 22, 2007, in response to the incident.[32] The ordinance prohibits any harassment that utilizes an electronic medium, including the Internet, text messaging services, pagers, and similar devices. Violations of the ordinance are treated as misdemeanors, with fines of up to $500 and up to 90 days imprisonment. The city of Florissant, Missouri, also passed a "Cyber Harassment" law, with other municipalities, counties, and states considering following suit. The state of Missouri is to revise its harassment laws in response to the case,[33] updating them to cover harassment through computers and mobile phone messaging, and creating a new crime to cover adults 21 and over harassing minors under the age of 18.

The new legislation went into effect on August 28, 2008, and was intended to cover loopholes in the current law.[34] According to the St. Louis Daily Record, the new language "expands the definition of the crime of 'harassment' to include knowingly intimidating or causing emotional distress anonymously, either by phone or electronically, or causing distress to a child." It also "increases the penalty for harassment from a misdemeanor to a felony, carrying up to four years in prison, if it's committed by an adult against someone 17 or younger, or if the criminal has previously been convicted of harassment." This is one of the first comprehensive cyberbullying and cyberstalking state laws that protects children and adults from harassment on social networking sites. The bill is a reaction to Lori Drew's case dismissal[15] and Governor Matt Blunt, the politician who signed the law into effect states, "[Missouri] needs tough laws to protect its children." A bill was introduced in the 111th Congress on April 2, 2009, as H.R. 1966. Both houses of the Missouri State Legislature voted unanimously on May 15, 2008, to criminalize usage of the Internet to harass someone, the existing statute was expanded to prohibit abusive "communication by any means" and is known as "Megan's Law."[35] (not to be confused with New Jersey's and subsequent federal Megan's Law). On May 22, 2008, Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez introduced H.R. 6123 as the "Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act" to "amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to cyberbullying."[36][37][38][39]

Tina Meier started the Megan Meier Foundation, headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri.[40] The organization states that it exists to promote "awareness, education and promote positive change to children, parents, and educators in response to the ongoing bullying and cyberbullying in our children's daily environment."[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Zetter, Kim (November 20, 2009). "Prosecutors Drop Plans to Appeal Lori Drew Case". Wired News. Archived from the original on February 16, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  2. ^ Frankel, Todd C (October 20, 2012). "Megan Meier's mom is still fighting bullying". stltoday.com. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  3. ^ Zetter, Kim (November 20, 2008). "Dead Teen's Mother Testifies about Daughter's Vulnerability in MySpace Suicide Case -- Update". Wired News. Archived from the original on April 16, 2015. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  4. ^ Lauren Collins (January 21, 2008). "Annals of Crime. Friend Game. Behind the online hoax that led to a girl's suicide". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on January 17, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2008.
  5. ^ Meganmeierfoundation.cwsit.org Archived March 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine: Megan's Story
  6. ^ "Parents say fake online 'friend' led to girl's suicide". CNN. November 17, 2007. Archived from the original on November 18, 2007. Retrieved November 17, 2007.
  7. ^ a b c Christopher Maag (November 28, 2007). "A Hoax Turned Fatal Draws Anger but No Charges". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 3, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
  8. ^ Frail egos caught in killer net Archived December 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, The Sydney Morning Herald November 30, 2007.
  9. ^ "Cyberbullying case goes to jury". United Press International. Archived from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008. They say Drew created a false 16-year-old male persona in an attempt to woo Meier and extract information from her to determine if she had been spreading gossip about her daughter.
  10. ^ a b "Exclusive: Teen Talks About Her Role in Web Hoax That Led to Suicide Archived 2008-04-02 at the Wayback Machine." ABC News.
  11. ^ Meganmeierfoundation.cwsit.org Archived March 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Cyber vigilantes on attack Archived 2009-02-04 at the Wayback Machine," CNN, December 4, 2007
  13. ^ Key events in the Megan Meier case Archived August 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine." Associated Press at USA Today. May 15, 2008. Retrieved on August 14, 2009.
  14. ^ Kim Zetter (November 25, 2008). "Prosecution: Lori Drew Schemed to Humiliate Teen Girl". Wired. Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018 – via www.wired.com.
  15. ^ a b c Steinhauer, Jennifer (November 26, 2008). "Verdict in MySpace Suicide Case". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on January 14, 2017. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  16. ^ "Teen Admits Guilt MySpace Suicide – Megan Meier". YouTube.
  17. ^ John Brueggemann (August 16, 2010). Rich, Free, and Miserable: The Failure of Success in America. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-4422-0095-1.
  18. ^ Keith Berry (April 28, 2016). Bullied: Tales of Torment, Identity, and Youth. Routledge. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-317-19258-9.
  19. ^ Parents: Cyber Bullying Led to Teen's Suicide: Megan Meier's Parents Now Want Measures to Protect Children Online Archived November 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine November 19, 2007
  20. ^ a b c Pokin, Steve (November 11, 2007). " 'MySpace' hoax ends with suicide of Dardenne Prairie teen". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on May 27, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2007.
  21. ^ "How Lori Drew became America's most reviled mother". The Age. Melbourne. December 1, 2007. Archived from the original on December 4, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2007.
  22. ^ a b "Who Deserves Anonymity?". Gelf Magazine. November 16, 2007. Archived from the original on November 19, 2007. Retrieved November 17, 2007.
  23. ^ "Something more disturbing than litter came unwanted into this house". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. October 21, 2007. Archived from the original on July 9, 2009. Retrieved December 7, 2007.
  24. ^ Collins, Lauren. Friend Game Archived January 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, The New Yorker January 21, 2008.
  25. ^ a b "Neighbors shun MySpace hoax family". CNN. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2007.. Associated Press at CNN. December 7, 2007. Retrieved on September 8, 2010.
  26. ^ Hutcheon, Stephen. Net vigilantes target MySpace mum Archived January 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. The Age
  27. ^ Ramadge, Andrew (November 19, 2007). "Woman linked to teen girl's suicide outed". news.com.au. Archived from the original on November 20, 2007. Retrieved November 19, 2007.
  28. ^ Zetter, Kim (November 21, 2007). "Cyberbullying Suicide Stokes the Internet Fury Machine". Wired News. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved November 24, 2007.
  29. ^ "Parents Want Jail Time for MySpace Hoax Mom". ABC News. Archived from the original on December 2, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  30. ^ a b c "UPDATE: No charges to be filed over Meier suicide Archived May 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Suburban Journals. December 3, 2007.
  31. ^ "Candlelight vigil held in honor of Megan Meier". sccworlds.com. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008.
  32. ^ Goldstein, Bonnie (November 29, 2007). "The Sock Puppet Who Loved Me". Slate. Archived from the original on December 7, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  33. ^ Cathcart, Rebecca. "MySpace Is Said to Draw Subpoena in Hoax Case" Archived November 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. The New York Times. January 10, 2008.
  34. ^ Missouri House of Representatives: House and Senate Joint Bill Tracking Archived February 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Web form (enter code SB818 to view the bill)
  35. ^ Whitney, Lance (August 28, 2009). "Cyberbullying case to test Megan's law". news.cnet.com. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  36. ^ 110th Congress, 2nd Session H. R. 6123 May 22, 2008
  37. ^ Mattathias Schwartz (August 3, 2008). "Malwebolence: The World of Web Trolling". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved November 18, 2008.
  38. ^ Steve Pokin (November 15, 2007). "FOLLOW UP: Dardenne Prairie officials plan to make cyberspace harassment a crime". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on June 3, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2007.
  39. ^ Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 565, Offenses Against the Person, Section 565.225 Archived January 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine August 28, 2009
  40. ^ "Contact Us Archived 2010-12-06 at the Wayback Machine." Megan Meier Foundation. Retrieved on December 9, 2010. "17295 Chesterfield Airport Road, Suite 200, Chesterfield Missouri 63005."
  41. ^ "Mission Statement Archived 2010-12-06 at the Wayback Machine." Megan Meier Foundation. Retrieved on December 9, 2010.

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