Detectives in Polk County made a tragic discovery overnight. A missing girl was found dead in Lakeland, from an apparent suicide.
And her mother says she was a victim of relentless bullying.
According to the sheriff's office, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, 12, was last seen early Monday morning leaving her Arizona Avenue home. Her mother thought Rebecca was on her way to school.
But Tricia Norman later noticed that Rebecca did not take her books. When she did not return after school, Tricia reported her missing, shortly after 7 p.m.
Tricia said says other girls were bullying Rebecca so badly at Crystal Lake Elementary School, she home schooled her for a few months last year.
Norman said a group of five or six girls at Crystal Lake Elementary School would post messages on Rebecca's Facebook page saying she was no good, ugly, stupid and that she should kill herself. Norman also says her daughter was attacked at school five times in just a few weeks.
"I guess for whatever reason, they just didn't like her," Tricia said.
Tricia says she filled out two online bullying forms from the school district last year, then sent her to Lawton Chiles Middle Academy this year, where she seemed to love the new environment.
But the bullying followed her online. Kids would tell her that she was ugly…worthless…and deserved to die.
Rebecca was supposed to get on the school bus yesterday morning, but never did.
Instead, she apparently came to an abandoned cement plant, where her life ended.
"I don't know what I am supposed to do next. I lost my world. I am trying to stay strong and do these interviews so I can get the message out: don't ignore your kids, even if they seem fine, still check up on them. Because you never know what's going on," Tricia said.
The Polk Sheriff's Office has not released a cause of death and will not until an autopsy is complete, but Rebecca's mom is convinced she knows why her daughter is dead.
The school district says it is investigating.
And her family is coping with an unimaginable loss.
"I think people should be punished for it. She didn't deserve to die at such a young age," her 19 year-old sister Summer Howard said before she broke into tears.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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