“Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Look at him!” Megan Meier exclaimed showing her mother a computer. “Yes, he’s cute, Tina Meier told her daughter. “Do you know who he is?” “No, but look at him! He’s hot! Please, please, can I add him?”
So began the love affair between Megan Meier and Josh Evans. There’s was a love fit for the times; emails, texts, and of course, MySpace, hence the computer screen that inspired Megan’s outburst. Josh was 16. Megan was 14 and insecure. She struggled with her weight, suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder, and had been seeing a therapist since first mentioning suicide in third grade. But Megan was beginning to find herself; she lost 20lbs, joined the volleyball team at her new school; Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie. Megan had had a lifelong battle with self esteem, in an acrostic Megan wrote about herself she expressed feelings of loneliness; M is for Modern, E is for Enthusiastic, G is for Goofy, A is for Alluring, N is for neglected, but now she finally had a boy who thought she was really pretty. Or so she thought.
For the next six weeks Megan and Josh got to know each other. Megan learned all about Josh’s childhood, he was from Florida and had endured a broken home, “my dad left when I was 7” he’d told her. But his life wasn’t all bad, he played drums and guitar, rock and roll instruments that would make any girl swoon. And Tina was always there, watching. Doing her best to protect her daughter from the potential evils of the Internet. But that’s the thing about evil, true evil, the kind that materializes from nothing to leave the world in shock and devastation; sometimes it comes in the form of a vast and terrifying unknown like cyberspace, and sometimes it comes in the form of a neighbor; an average 42 year old woman with a husband and children…just like you.
Lori Drew was a successful local business woman, owning an advertising mailer business called The Drew Ad Vantage. She was a member of the St. Peters Chamber of Commerce, a well respected member of the community. She also has a daughter.
Sarah Drew and Megan Meier had been friends, on and off, since elementary school. They started eighth grade together, excited to start middle school, but somewhere along the line, Megan decided to end their friendship after an argument. Normally, this would be a non-event on the radar of teenage drama, girls change friends like they change clothes. But most girls — thank God, don’t have Lori Drew for a mother because it is at this point that, where other mothers would console their daughters with ice cream and a “you’re special” pep talk, Lori took helicopter parenting to a level that would make Joan Crawford stand back in awe. She created a profile on MySpace and selected a picture of a really hot guy, gave him a background, special talents, and cloaked him in mystery. Oh yes, she gave him a name too; John Evans. Yes, THAT Josh Evans.
For six weeks Lori Drew, an adult with a daughter the same age, played the role of a 16 year old boy. And she didn’t half ass it either; using the experience that comes with advanced age (if not the common sense), Lori Drew did her best to get Megan to confess secret desires, crushes and other vulnerabilities to her online ‘boyfriend’. Megan chatted with ‘Josh’ about things 13-year-old girls usually talk about: school, parents and sex, basking in the glow of her first ‘relationship.’
Then, Josh got mean. “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.” Remember the shot heard round the world? This was nothing like that as this was only heard deep within the depths of Megan’s soul.
Why did he suddenly think she was mean? Who had he been talking to? “What are you talking about”? A frantic Megan exclaimed. But instead of explaining himself, ‘Josh’ doubled down on the snark: “Everybody in O’Fallon knows how 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.” Ouch. To add insult to, well, insult, Josh had apparently shared their previous correspondence with others who, naturally, joined in on the teasing saying things like “Megan is fat” and “Megan is a slut.” Tina told Megan to sign off but Megan couldn’t seem to pry herself away from the train wreck that was quickly becoming her online life. She kept reading and the messages kept coming: “No one likes you.” “You’re a bad person.” Pot meet kettle.
After fifteen minutes of this vitriol Megan called her mother, who had taken her little sister to the orthodontist, in tears. “They are all being so mean to me!” Megan exclaimed. Tina demanded that she sign off immediately and hoped that would be the end of it. It was not.
Megan ran past her father, who tried to ask her what was wrong, to her room, hysterical by this point. Her father, Ron went downstairs to the kitchen, where he and his wife talked about the MySpace account and made dinner. Twenty minutes later, Tina, Megan’s mother, suddenly froze in mid-sentence. “I had this God-awful feeling and I ran up into her room and she had hung herself in the closet.”
Megan Taylor Meier died the next day, three weeks before her 14th birthday.