In the 13 days since we first heard word of the case of Lori Drew, the mother whose Myspace hoax drove 13-year-old Megan Meier to suicide, pretty much every major news outlet seems to have covered — including Doctor Drew himself, who appeared pretty disgusted by the whole thing on Monday night's Anderson Cooper 360. Today the New York Times weighed in, and it quickly shot to the top of the newspaper's Most Emailed list. The story itself hasn't gotten much more complicated since — Megan had been fighting with her formerly close friend; she switched schools and cut off the friendship; the friend's mother set up a fake MySpace account under the guise of a cute boy named Josh and went to work befriending Megan only to suddenly de-friend her with random assertions that she was a "shitty person" without whom the world would be a better place; it all checks out; it all ended up being in a police-penned account Lori Drew herself gave an officer. What has changed since the world learned about the story, according to the Riverfront Times, are the lives of Curt and Lori Drew:
The day after the article was published, a prank caller dialed 911 and reported a murder at the Drew residence. "I looked out into my front yard and all I saw was nothing but St. Charles police officers with shotguns and bulletproof vests," says Trevor Buckles, who lives in the house next door to the Drews. "It was kind of scary." Pete Kriss, another neighbor, says at first he worried that people might mistake his house for the Drews' home and is glad the address is posted online. "Now they know exactly where it is," he says.
But although their pictures, phone numbers and satellite images of their houses have been posted on the internet, no one knows where the Drews are.
Neighbors say they haven't seen the family in days and have no idea as to their whereabouts. A person answering the phone at Coldwell Banker Gundaker in O'Fallon, where Curt Drew worked as a realtor, said Drew was no longer with the firm and quickly hung up.
The New York Times did manage to reach Curt on the phone, and he declined to comment.
So it's tough what to make of it. The small details that have fleshed out the personalities and motives of the Drew family don't paint them in any less cruel of a light, and none of their neighbors or friends — save the anonymous author of a twisted blog called meganhaditcoming, if it is not in fact a member of the Drew family — seem to have spoken out in their defense. Maybe they have nothing to say. Maybe they are still recovering from the big rush of shame the general public's outrage has unleashed. Maybe they're too far gone. I'd hazard to say, based on the evidence, that the eighteen-year-old employee that assisted Lori Drew in the hoax is too far gone.
But now there's really not a lot more to say but, you know, love your neighbors. Yes, the town passed some law criminalizing online harassment and columnist Steve Pokin continues to use his space to argue for tougher legislation regarding internet threats; I'd like to think the power of stories like these will be more effective than the prospect of $500 fines at deterring those who might otherwise be tempted to go too far in tormenting someone on Myspace.
And finally, I know the Meiers are legally separated now and have even filed restraining orders against one another; my experience covering messy divorce cases tells me this is probably mostly tactical, but still. If it's idealistic to think experiencing the country's love and empathy for them might help bring them back together and encourage them to finally move on, okay then, I am an idealist.
A Hoax Turned Fatal [New York Times]
Broken Lives On Waterford Crystal Drive [Riverfront Times]