It's a picture-perfect all-American neighborhood, but on Waterford Crystal Drive, just outside St. Louis, a suburban enclave is in turmoil and shock after the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier.
It all began a year ago when Megan met a boy on the Internet.
Megan was insecure and slightly overweight and was thrilled to have a page on the social networking site MySpace, and to be contacted by "Josh Evans." Tina Meier, Megan's mom, described Josh as having blue eyes and brown, wavy hair and looking like a model. She asked Megan whether she knew him. In fact, Megan did not know Josh, who told her he was 16 and had just moved to town.
Ron Meier, Megan's father, was slightly concerned. "Everybody that was on there we had to know, and this individual we did not know," he said.
"The content that was on there was approved by us so there could not be any inappropriate content on there at all," said Tina Meier.
The Meiers, fearful of the dangers to teens online, worried more about Megan. She had a history of depression and was prescribed medication. "Megan just always felt like she wasn't wanted or accepted enough. And that was the hardest thing to try to get her to just be herself," said Tina.
Recently, things seemed to be turning around for Megan. She had lost weight, switched to a smaller, private school and had made new friends. There had been a rift with another 13-year-old down the street, a close friend, who felt Megan had deserted her, but Megan was happier than ever and excited about her new online relationship, her parents said.
"Josh did the showing of attention as far as commenting on her pictures, telling her she had beautiful eyes, what a great smile she had," said Tina. "And for Megan that was certainly uplifting."
Then, last October, just as Megan was planning a 14th birthday bash, Josh suddenly turned on her.
"I signed her on and the first message was something like, 'You heard me, I said I don't want to be friends with you anymore because you're not nice to your friends.' Megan said something like 'Yes I am,' and this went back and forth," said Tina.
And worse, more taunts began to be posted on the site, insulting Megan.
"This girl jumped in calling Megan all kinds of names, telling Megan she was a fat ass, Josh started calling Megan, telling her she was a whore," said Tina.
Then, said Ron Meier, came the cruelest message of all, saying "the world would be a better off place without you."
Megan was distraught. Tina, angry about the nasty online exchanges, insisted that Megan log off the computer.
"Megan got upset with me and yelled -- not yelled, but was crying and said 'You're supposed to be my Mom and you're supposed to be on my side,' and then took off running upstairs," said Tina.
Twenty minutes later, Tina went to check on her daughter and made a horrible discovery. "I went upstairs and opened the door and saw her hanging in the closet," she said. "And I screamed and ran over and tried picking her up."
Tina said all she was thinking was, "Please God don't make this real."
Ron came into the room and grabbed Megan and pulled her down. Desperate, Tina quickly dialed 911 and ordered her younger daughter to go get Blaine Buckles, a teenage neighbor who was trained in CPR.