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Prosecutor won't bring charges in MySpace suicide

  • Story Highlights
  • Prosecutor: "No question adults should have said something to stop this"
  • Missouri harassment, stalking statutes don't apply to Megan Meier's suicide
  • Critical message on fake MySpace page prompted Megan to hang herself
  • Some loopholes "need to be cleaned up," prosecutor says
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(CNN) -- A Missouri prosecutor said Monday no charges would be sought in the case of a teen who hanged herself last year after chatting on MySpace, although he said adults should have prevented the tragedy.

Megan Meier, shown in an undated photo, killed herself after receving a critical message on MySpace.

Megan Meier, 13, killed herself after receiving a critical message on the MySpace social networking site from someone she thought was a boy named "Josh."

St. Charles County, Missouri, Prosecuting Attorney Jack Banas said an 18-year-old woman posed as "Josh" on MySpace to find out what Megan was saying about a neighbor's daughter.

The message said Megan was "mean" to her friends, Banas said.

"There is no way that anybody could know that talking to someone or saying that you're mean to your friends on the Internet would create a substantial risk," Banas said. "It certainly created a potential risk and, unfortunately for the Meiers, that potential became reality. But under the law we just couldn't show that."

But Banas said that conclusion doesn't mean no one is to blame. "Regardless of what we can charge or what we can't charge, there is no question the adults should have said something to stop this," he said. Video Watch Megan's mother react to the prosecutor's decision »

Asked whether he is satisfied with laws pertaining to the case, Banas said, "The bottom line is there are some -- I think -- loopholes that I think need to be cleaned up."

The prosecutor said his inability to file charges does not mean those involved in the suicide will go unpunished.

"The loss of a life of a person that they once talked to as a friend, I'm sure, is just twisting them all up inside," Banas said.

Over several weeks, many of the exchanges on MySpace concerned innocuous topics such as what sports they liked, Banas said.

But on October 15, 2006, "another teenage young lady" was given the password to the "Josh" account, Banas said. She reportedly sent Megan a message saying she had heard the girl was "mean to your friends" and adding, "I don't know if I want to be your friend anymore."

Banas said that Megan responded, "Who's saying this? Who's saying I'm mean?"

The next day, the 18-year-old woman -- who was working for a neighbor of Megan's -- used the account to send messages to Megan. Megan asked "Josh" why the messages were nice a day after they were unkind, Banas said.

The 18-year-old woman then reviewed the history of the earlier messages, including Megan's request about who had accused her of not being nice to her friends, he said.

The woman then "fired a statement back to Megan saying, 'I'm not going to tell you who told me that, I don't do that, I don't tell on my friends,' " Banas said.

Megan responded with a message expressing anger and calling "Josh" "a few names," according to Banas.

"Josh" then sent a statement that included something to the effect of "this world would be a better place without you," Banas said. Accounts differ as to who was with the 18-year-old during the typing of the messages, he said.

When Megan's mother returned home, she found her daughter crying at the computer. After reading the messages, she criticized her daughter for using inappropriate language, Banas said.

Telling her mom that "I can't believe you're not on my side," Megan ran upstairs and hanged herself, Banas said.

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Missouri's harassment statute says nothing about the Internet, and the stalking statute requires repeated conversations, so neither would apply in this case, Banas said.

The purpose of the neighbor who arranged for the "Josh" character "was never to cause her emotional harassment that we can prove," Banas said. Any case would be based on "what we can prove and what a jury would believe." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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