On Monday, October 14, 2013, Polk County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives arrested and charged two middle school students with felony Aggravated Stalking. The charges are a result of numerous interviews conducted by PCSO detectives who are investigating the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick of Lakeland that occurred on September 9, 2013.
According to their affidavits, from December 2012 to February 2013 (during the 2012/2013 school year), 12-year-old Katelyn Roman and 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw, repeatedly and maliciously harassed Rebecca Sedwick. At the time, all three girls attended Crystal Lake Middle School. Several students corroborated stories of both girls bullying Sedwick on different occasions, through name-calling, intimidation, threats to beat her up, and at least one actual physical fight.
According to witnesses, including a boyfriend of Shaw’s who had previously been Rebecca’s boyfriend, Shaw had several arguments with Rebecca via Facebook, as well as verbal confrontations at school. During the incidents, Rebecca was observed walking away from Shaw and not engaging, leading witnesses to determine that Rebecca was being bullied by Shaw. Shaw also reportedly bullied anyone who was friends with Rebecca. For this reason, some children did not want to be friends with Rebecca, out of fear of being bullied by Shaw.
Witnesses reported that Shaw sent messages to Rebecca, calling her ugly, telling her to drink bleach and die, and telling Rebecca that she [Rebecca] should kill herself. Shaw tried to instigate physical fights with Rebecca on more than one occasion.
Shaw also instigated fighting between Roman and Rebecca. Roman was friends with Rebecca, until Shaw convinced Roman to stop being friends with her. Roman was suspended for one fight that occurred in February 2013, during which Shaw encouraged Roman to “beat up” Rebecca. Rebecca did not fight back. When interviewed recently by detectives, Roman admitted that she “bullied” Rebecca, and that she was sorry for doing it.
Detectives have determined that on September 9, 2013, Rebecca Sedwick committed suicide by jumping from a concrete silo tower to her death, and that the malicious harassment by Roman and Shaw was likely a contributing factor in Rebecca’s decision to commit suicide.
Shaw and Roman were arrested Monday evening, October 14, 2013, and booked into the JAC. They were released from the JAC the same evening, into their respective parents' custody. They remain on home detention.