NY Police Check Computer, Phone in Bullying Probe
By CAROLYN THOMPSON
AMHERST, N.Y. – Police investigating the suicide of a 14-year-old New York boy have sent his computer and cell phone to a forensics lab to help determine whether bullying he endured rose to a criminal level.
Amherst Police Chief John Askey said Wednesday it could take weeks or months for experts to check Jamey Rodemeyer’s devices for evidence that could support charges of aggravated harassment or a hate crime.
“Jamey unfortunately can’t speak for himself now,” Askey said during a news conference at the suburban Buffalo police station. “But hopefully we’ll be able to determine that through his computer.”
The Sept. 18 death of Rodemeyer, who described himself online as gay, has led to renewed calls for better anti-bullying efforts in schools and for specific anti-bullying laws. Lady Gaga is among celebrity supporters.
The police investigation into Rodemeyer’s death is focused on the high school freshman’s extensive online activity as well as incidents of alleged bullying while he was a student at Heim Middle School and Williamsville North High School which, on their own, may not be considered criminal acts.
“If we can identify a course of conduct with the material that’s on the computer, associated with the independent acts that may or may not be criminal, I can assure you that we’re going to be pursuing a prosecution to the greatest extent of the law,” Askey said.
In the meantime, police have ruled out criminal charges against a high school student who was heard saying “I’m glad he’s dead” at a homecoming event attended by Rodemeyer’s sister, Alyssa Rodemeyer, days after her brother’s death.
While the comments were “inappropriate and vile,” the chief said, they were not made directly to Alyssa and could not be considered criminal.
Jamey Rodemeyer posted a Youtube video in May describing how he was taunted in the hallways after revealing that he was bisexual. In a blog he kept until the night he died, he posted numerous references to suicide and bullying. Among anonymous posts to his Formspring account were: “Kill your self!!!! You have nothing left!” and “Go kill yourself, you’re worthless, ugly and don’t have a point to live.”