Police have opened a criminal investigation in the suicide death of Buffalo, N.Y., 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who was bullied online with gay slurs for more than a year.
The teen’s parents, friends and even Lady Gaga, who was his idol, have expressed outrage about what they say was relentless torment on social networking websites.
The Amherst Police Department’s Special Victims Unit has said it will determine whether to charge some students with harassment, cyber-harassment or hate crimes. Police said three students in particular might have been involved. Jamey was a student at Heim Middle School.
Jamey had just started his freshman year at Williamsville North High School. (Both Amherst and Williamsville are just outside Buffalo.) But the bullying had begun during middle school, according to his parents. He had told family and friends that he had endured hateful comments in school and online, mostly related to his sexual orientation.
Jamey was found dead outside his home Sunday morning, but Amherst police would not release any details on how he killed himself.
"The special victims unit is looking into the circumstances prior to his death," Captain Michael Camilleri said. "We are not sure if there is anything criminal or not."
No bullying laws exist in New York State, according to Camilleri, so police would have to determine whether aggravated harassment charges fit this case. Whether suspects would be tried in juvenile court would depend on whether the alleged bully was 16 or older, he said.
. He was very active on the social media blog Tumblr as well as Facebook, Twitter and the anonymous question-and-answer site Formspring. It was Jamey’s Formspring account that attracted the most hurtful, hate-filled messages.
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