BARTOW, Fla., Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Florida schoolgirls are targets in an investigation of bullying that may have driven a 12-year-old to suicide, Polk County Sheriff Gray Judd said Thursday.
Judd said the school district is not to blame for Rebecca Ann Sedwick's death, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He said school officials tried to deal with the "middle-school drama."
Rebecca left her home in Lakeland on Monday morning but did not go to school. Her mother reported her missing at about 7 p.m., and her body was found early Tuesday on the property of a closed cement company near her home. Judd said the girl climbed a tower at the plant and jumped to her death.
Her mother said Rebecca was tormented in school and by cell phone with messages like "You're ugly" and "Why are you still alive?" The Lakeland Ledger quoted her mother as saying that the messages continued after her daughter switched schools.
"Girls can get pretty catty as kids," Judd said. "The system cannot manage all that cattiness.... I truly believe the school system tried but we don't live in a perfect world."
Judd said investigators are trying to determine who sent the messages.