US woman charged over MySpace-related suicide

A US woman, accused of pretending to be a teenage boy on MySpace and driving a 13-year-old girl to suicide after sending her cruel messages, has been indicted on federal charges.

The accused, 49-year-old Lori Drew from Missouri, faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly creating a fake MySpace persona of a 16-year-old boy to flirt with neighbour Megan Meier for several weeks and then dump her. The indictment, which was filed in US District Court in Los Angeles, accuses Drew and others of registering on MySpace as "Josh Evans" and using the account to lure Meier into an online romance, before abruptly ending it, saying the world would be a better place without her.

Authorities have said that Drew set up the account to find out what Meier, who lived in the same street, was saying about her daughter after they had a falling out.

One hour after "Josh" abruptly ended the relationship in October 2006, Meier hanged herself in the closet of her bedroom, completely unaware that "Josh" did not exist. She died the following day.

Prosecutors allege Drew then deleted the hoax MySpace account after finding out about Meier's death and warned a girl who knew about it to "keep her mouth shut".

However, the community found out that Drew was the alleged culprit and the incident became widely known, making worldwide headlines.

US Attorney Thomas O'Brien said: "This adult woman allegedly used the internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications.

"Any adult who uses the internet or social gathering website to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realise that their actions can have serious consequences."

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