Teen arrested in St. Petersburg for cyberbullying - FOX 13 News

Teen arrested in St. Petersburg for cyberbullying

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It's happened again: A Bay area teen is behind bars for charges stemming from cyberbullying.

On Thursday, St.Petersburg police arrested a 15-year-old girl on charges of aggravated stalking, after they say she sent hundreds of threatening text messages to three different female victims.

Detectives say this bullying case went to a violent extreme. They say the suspect sent messages to the victims ranging from name-calling to threats of violence.

"She was aware that one of the victims had a relative that had recently committed suicide. She was encouraging that victim to commit suicide herself, to cut her wrist so she could go visit her relative and that would save her the trouble of having to kill her," said Bill Proffitt of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

FOX 13 isn't naming the suspect because she's a juvenile. Police say she sent hundreds of the messages using the app, Kik.

"It's an app that doesn't require a cellular service, but yet it can send texts to a cell phone," Proffitt said.

The texts have landed the 10th grader in serious trouble. St. Petersburg police started their investigation late last month, and even pulled the suspect in for questioning on Monday.

"We told her there's an investigation in progress, and asked to stay away from the victims," Proffitt said.

Detectives say the texts didn't stop. Thursday, they arrested the teen suspect on multiple counts of aggravated stalking and tampering with a witness.

Neighbors say the suspect and her mom quietly keep to themselves in a St. Petersburg duplex.

"I know the mom's a nice lady. I'm surprised to hear this from her daughter. I'm sad for her mom," neighbor Oviessa Lomi said Thursday night.

After the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick in September, cyberbullying is becoming a problem police can't ignore. The two teens charged in Sedwick's case used the same Kik app to bully the 12-year old to the point that she took her own life.

St. Petersburg police say this case stands on its own. "It's on everyone's mind obviously. The very merits of this case...we're talking hundreds of threatening texts, over a period of eight days. Very specific death threats that simply could not be dismissed," Proffitt said.

The 15-year old suspect was booked at the Juvenile Assessment Center on Thursday. St. Petersburg police are obtaining copies of the texts from the victim's cell phones. Investigators say they're also working with Kik, which is based in Canada, to obtain their records.

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