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'Hiccup Girl' charged with murder after allegedly luring man into trap

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
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'Hiccup girl' accused of murder
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: In radio interview, Jennifer Mee's mother calls her daughter's hiccups a "curse"
  • NEW: An ex-girlfriend describes the murder victim as the "nicest guy ever"
  • Police say that Mee befriended a man online and lured him to a vacant home

(CNN) -- A Florida teenager made famous for her extensive bout with hiccups faces first-degree murder charges after meeting a man online and allegedly luring him to a vacant home, where he was robbed of between $50 and $60 and killed, police said.

Jennifer Mee, 19, was arrested and charged Sunday -- as were two men, Laron Raiford and Lamont Newton -- hours after Shannon Griffin was found dead. He had been shot several times.

The victim "friended" Mee on a social networking site last week and the two exchanged messages in subsequent days, according to St. Petersburg, Florida, police. Authorities do not believe Mee or Griffin, a Wal-Mart employee who had recently moved to Florida from the Gulf Coast, knew each other prior to their online encounter.

After telling family members around 10 p.m. that he was heading out to meet a woman, Griffin rode his scooter to a vacant home where he had his first face-to-face encounter with Mee, police said. Mee led Griffin around to the back, where Raiford and Newton were armed and waiting, according to police.

Griffin was shot with .38-caliber revolver while struggling in what the three murder suspects described to police as a "robbery gone awry."

"All three suspects admitted to their involvement and were charged with first-degree felony murder," St. Petersburg Police Sgt. T.A. Skinner said in a statement.

Mee will face the same murder charge as the two men, even though she didn't actually shoot Griffin, police said.

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"She was well aware of what was going on," St. Petersburg, Florida, Police Chief Chuck Harmon said. "She was obviously the set-up person in this robbery."

In 2007, Mee's non-stop hiccups gained national attention. She earned the nickname "Hiccup Girl" and appeared multiple times on NBC's "Today" show. Her desperate search for a hiccup cure included trying "sugar, peanut butter, breathing in a bag, having people scare me," she said in a photo slideshow posted on the St. Petersburg Times' website in February 2007.

But after her hiccups faded, Mee continued to draw attention. In June 2007, local media reported that she ran away from home. In January 2010, St. Petersburg police once again issued a missing person report for Mee. Her mother told CNN affiliate WFTS that her daughter had stormed off after getting into a fight with her boyfriend. Mee was found after a friend called police, the affiliate said.

Mee had been living with Raiford and Newton, police said.

Police arrived at the scene of Saturday's shooting shortly after 11 p.m, finding a gun in some of the suspects' clothing, Harmon said. The three suspects were arrested and charged Sunday, after they were "cooperative" in talking with police.

In an interview with WFLZ radio, the teenager's mother, Rachel Robidoux, described her daughter as a gentle, somewhat naive person who had never before gotten into trouble. Her life had taken a turn for the worse, Robidoux said, ever since her bout with the hiccups.

"It wasn't a case of the hiccups, it was a curse of the hiccups," she said.

She called Mee's arrest "a nightmare."

Also on WFLZ, Griffin's ex-girlfriend Rachel Hagabone said the victim was a good man. "All he ever wanted to do was make somebody happy," she said. "He's the nicest guy ever."

St. Petersburg police described Griffin, who had no criminal record, as somewhat of a "social introvert" who lived with a cousin and was often on the computer. Besides his online encounter, he did not appear to know any of the suspects, police said.

"This is the far end of the spectrum, as far as something that could happen" with social networking websites, said Harmon. "The message: Be careful who you're having a conversation with online. You never know."

CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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