Neighbor in hoax on Internet is outcast
Lori Drew had a role in a hoax that led to a 13-year-old's suicide.
By Assocaited Press
Published December 7, 2007
DARDENNE PRAIRIE, Mo. - Waterford Crystal Drive is one of those suburban streets that seem so new as to have no history at all. But the suicide of a teenage girl - and allegations she had been tormented by a neighbor over the Internet - have brought a reaction that is old, almost tribal, in its nature.
Residents of the middle-class subdivision have turned against the neighbor, Lori Drew, and her family, demanding that the Drews move out. In interviews, they have warned darkly that someone might be tempted to "take matters into their own hands."
"It's like they used to do in the 1700s and 1800s. If you wronged a community, you were basically shunned. That's basically what happened to her," said Trever Buckles, 40, who lives next door to the Drews.
Drew became an outcast after she participated in a hoax in which a fictional teenager by the name of "Josh Evans" exchanged online messages with 13-year-old Megan Meier. Megan received cruel messages from Josh that apparently drove her to hang herself in her closet in 2006.
Through her lawyer, Drew, a mother of two in her 40s, has denied saying hurtful things to the girl over the Internet, and prosecutors have said they found no grounds for charges against the woman. Nevertheless, the community reaction has been vengeful and the pressure on the Drews intense.
More than 100 residents gathered in front of their home on a recent evening, holding candles and reciting stories about Megan.
Last December, after neighbors learned of the Internet hoax, someone threw a brick through a window in the Drew home. A few weeks ago, someone made a prank call to police reporting that there had been a shooting inside the Drews' house, prompting squad cars to arrive with sirens flashing.
Someone recently obtained the password to change the Drews' outgoing cell phone recording, and replaced it with a disturbing message. Police would not detail the content.
Clients have fled from Drew's home-based advertising business, so she had to close it. Neighbors have not seen Drew outside her home in weeks.
Death threats and ugly insults have been hurled at Drew over the Internet, where she has been portrayed as a monster who should go to prison, lose custody of her children, or worse. Her name and address have been posted online, and a Web site with satellite images of the home said the Drews should "rot in hell."
The Drews - Lori, her husband, Curt, and two children - live in a one-story ranch.
Ron and Tina Meier's home is four houses away from the Drews. The sidewalk is curved, so the neighbors can't see each other from their front doors. The breach between the once-friendly families seems beyond repair.
"I think that what they have done is so despicable, that I think it absolutely disgusts people," Tina Meier said. "I can't take one ounce of energy worrying about who does not like Lori Drew or who hates Lori Drew. I could not care less."