(Photo: Family photo via WTSP.com)
Florida authorities said Tuesday that two girls -- 12 and 14 -- were arrested on charges of felony aggravated stalking for allegedly bullying a 12-year-old girl who jumped to her death last month from an abandoned cement factory tower.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who planned to elaborate on the charges at a news conference Tuesday, told reporters earlier that bullying of Rebecca Sedwick began over a boyfriend.
Authorities have said the Lakeland girl was "terrorized" by as many as 15 girls who ganged up on her and picked on her for months through online message boards and texts. Some of the girls' computers and cellphones were seized in the investigation.
"They would tell her she's ugly, stupid, nobody liked her, go kill herself," Rebecca's mother, Tricia Norman, told WTSP-TV last month. She says the constant bullying drove her daughter to kill herself, and that the school district did not do enough to protect her.
Judd said on that on the morning of Sept. 9, Rebecca texted a boy she had met online in North Carolina from the cement tower, saying she was jumping and she couldn't take it anymore.
Judd said the "red flags" for possible suicide were there. On her computer, police found search queries for topics including "what is overweight for a 13-year-old girl," ''how to get blades out of razors" and "how many over-the-counter drugs do you take to die." One of her screensavers also showed Rebecca with her head resting on a railroad track.
Florida has a bullying law named after a teenager who killed himself after being harassed by classmates. Amended July 1 to cover cyberbullying, the law leaves punishment to schools, though law enforcement also can seek more traditional charges.
Rebecca ran away in November and was hospitalized the following month for three days after cutting herself. At one point, the school stepped in to separate the girls' schedules because of fights. Rebecca later even changed schools, but the bullying continued online, on sites such as Ask.fm, Kik, Instagram and Voxer, authorities said.
Her death prompted her mother to create a Rebecca Sedwick -- Against Bullying page on Facebook that has drawn more than 8,000 followers.