Sheriff urges parents to be vigilant after Pasco County teen hangs herself
by Sarina Fazan
HUDSON, Fla. - Looking at pictures of Jessica Laney, you see a pretty 16-year-old.
But messages found on Ask.fm, a social networking website, are downright mean.
One reads, "You have pretty eyes, but you are fat." Another goes as far as to say "Can you just kill yourself already? Nobody even cares about you."
On Sunday, Jessica did end her own life. Pasco Deputies said she hung herself.
"It hurts really bad," said Odalis Vega, a student at Fivay High School where Jessica attended and played soccer.
Students wore purple Tuesday in remembrance. It's Jessica's favorite color.
Many, including Vega and Laney Torres, also joined a push to take down Ask.fm. The website allows people to post questions anonymously.
"After I saw that, I thought they should just delete the website. Nobody should have that, to have people say stuff like that on there," said Torres.
There is already a petition on change.org to dismantle the Ask.fm site. Nearly 3,000 people have signed.
"We are wondering why Jessica took the steps that she took," said Sheriff Chris Nocco.
The emotions over this story are running so high, Sheriff Nocco wanted to address the issue himself. He stressed they found no indication of any bullying at the school. Deputies interviewed faculty and students. Even Jessica's parents told them they had no idea their daughter was being targeted.
"What we can say is that we are going through the social network sites right now," said Sheriff Nocco.
Sheriff Nocco said the quotes on Ask.fm are beyond disturbing. But, legally, there may not be many avenues.
"We don't even know if a crime occurred. It could have been nasty words that were said, that led this young girl to take the actions that she did," said Sheriff Nocco.
And the sheriff explained you can't charge someone over hurtful words. But there is something we can do.
"There is first amendment, and the protection of the internet. And with the new age of the computer and the internet, this is the time that parents needs to be so involved. It's not just a cliche, it's a reality," said Sheriff Nocco. "We can warn parents if your kids on the internet, be in the same room as them. It's ok to be a nosy parent."
In the meantime, Torres and Vega said they will push to take down Ask.fm. They will do it for Jessica.
"Because no one deserves to be told those things. They are all beautiful. That website should be taken down," said Vega.
The sheriff's office said Jessica had been battling some emotional issues. According to a report, the teen was hospitalized last year after she threatened to hang herself.
But deputies are looking into every aspect.
On Thursday, the Calvary church of the Nazarene on 235 Cobbletone Drive in Spring Hill will hold a memorial service for the teen at 6:00 p.m.