Debbie Lee was more than 100 miles from home, camping in the woods, when someone staged a life-and-death drama on her Facebook page.
For about two-and-a-half hours, suicidal notes were posted to her account. As family and friends wrote back, pleading with her to preserve her life, the messages continued.
"Debbie Lee has realized that my life is a lie and that my only friend is the handgun in the back of my closet," said one message. "My pain will be over soon," said another.
It wasn't until Lee reached ground high enough to have phone reception that she received any clue about what was happening. About 20 messages flooded in within a minute, she said, some telling her not to do "anything drastic."
By the time her son got through to her cell phone, several police officers had assembled outside her home in Surprise, Ariz., ready to break down the door.
"They thought maybe I was out somewhere, maybe, going to kill myself," she said, adding that her closest friends, and even children, were fooled because of all the personal details threaded through the messages. "This person was pretending to be me."
A hacker, she said, had impersonated her online, convincing family and friends that she was on the verge of suicide. The fraudster also broke into her e-mail account and sent out racist messages, she said.
Lee, whose son was a Navy Seal who died in Iraq in 2006, said the whole ordeal has been "an absolute nightmare."
"I just don't understand. Our family has been through so much," she said. "The person threatened more attacks. I've changed the way I've lived my life. I've never been a worrier, a fretter. I've had to think differently."
Although local police started to investigate the incident, which took place Aug. 21, she said she was told Friday that the case had been closed because they couldn't identify any city or state laws that had been broken.
"I couldn't believe it. How could you say that there weren't any laws broken?" asked Lee. "I couldn't believe that they had closed the case."
Since the death of her son Marc, Lee has become a vocal spokeswoman for members of the military and their families. She founded the non-profit America's Mighty Warriors, which remembers fallen soldiers and supports their families.
And she has traveled to Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and other military bases to thank the troops, meeting with President George W. Bush and other dignitaries along the way.
Given her work and visibility, she thinks the attacks were politically motivated.
"I don't know what kind of sick, sick human would do this," Lee said. "It's someone trying to discredit who I am and what I do."
But though Lee said the experience has left her shaken to the core, distrusting the technology that made this possible, a spokesman for the local police department said that, under city and state law, a crime was not necessarily committed.
"Yes, it causes grief and we do feel for her. We do take that seriously. But unfortunately, our hands are tied by the fact that we have to be out there enforcing an actual statute," said Sgt. Mark Ortega, a public information officer with the Surprise Police Department.
He said that after conferring with the county attorney, the department concluded that there weren't cyber harassment statutes it could enforce.