Exclusive: Teen Talks About Her Role in Web Hoax That Led to Suicide

Exclusive: Teen admits role in scheme to start MySpace romance with 13-year-old.

February 26, 2009, 5:06 PM

April 1, 2008 — -- In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America," Ashley Grills, 19, admitted she was part of a scheme to create a fake persona on MySpace and start an online romance with a 13-year-old neighbor, Megan Meier.

Grills insisted, though, that she was not the only adult involved in the cruel hoax, which eventually led the emotionally vulnerable Meier to commit suicide in October 2006, after her spurious online boyfriend and others began making nasty comments about her.

Grills has testified to a grand jury that Lori Drew, the 47-year-old mother of one of Meier's friends, was actively involved in creating the account and wrote some of the messages to Meier — a charge that Drew and her attorney deny.

"We were just combining ideas about how we can figure out what Megan was saying about Lori's daughter," Grills told ABC News' Deborah Roberts. "It was all three of us — me and Lori and her daughter."

Drew was never charged with a crime in Missouri, where Meier ended her life.

Now, in a strange twist, the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles has begun its own investigation to charge Drew with fraud. In this case, the alleged victim is not Megan Meier but MySpace, which is based in Beverly Hills, Calif. Grills has been granted immunity in exchange for her testimony against Drew.

Drew has said that Grills was the main instigator behind creating the fictional "Josh Evans" and striking up an online relationship with Meier.

Grills admitted for the first time publicly that she created the profile of Josh Evans, and she told Roberts that she wrote the cruel words, "the world would be a better place without you," that may have pushed Meier over the edge.

Grills said that she was trying to end the "relationship" because she felt that the joke had gone too far.

"I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace," Grills said.

Grills, a longtime family friend of the Drews, said she began feeling uneasy about the online hoax when Meier asked to meet Evans.

"She was wanting to meet him … and me and Lori's daughter were both telling Lori that we thought it was going too far 'cause none of us can meet her, none of us are guys," Grills said.

"And she [Lori Drew] was like, it's fine, you know, we can set her up. We can have her go meet him at the mall and go there and just laugh at her, and I thought that was wrong," Grills continued.

After she heard Meier had hung herself, Grills said, "I was in shock. I just — I went back and Curt [Lori Drew's husband] was yelling at us to get rid of the MySpace, so we did that. And then I just sat down and didn't say anything."

"I thought it was my fault," Grills told Roberts.

Lori Drew allegedly told Grills to keep quiet about the MySpace account. According to Grills, "[Lori Drew] had then finally mentioned that Megan was depressed and suicidal. She says, 'And maybe we pushed her overboard.'"

Megan's parents, Tina and Ron Meier, also remained silent while Missouri officials investigated the case.

When the Meiers eventually went public with their story, a firestorm erupted in the community and across the country, with Grills and the Drews right in the middle.

Grills said she began getting online messages and threats. "They would tell me to kill myself and save everybody the trouble."

The last year and a half have been difficult, Grills said. She was hospitalized after she attemped to commit suicide, and she says she hardly ever leaves her house.

ABC News contacted lawyers for Lori Drew who said they stand by their original statement: "Lori Drew did not create or direct anyone to create the Josh Evans MySpace account. Although she was aware of the account, Lori Drew never sent any messages to Megan or to anyone else using this MySpace account."

Grills said she is angry at Drew, who she once viewed as a mother figure, for making her the scapegoat.

"I have a lot of anger towards her for making me feel like crap," she said. "She had -- basically she was trying to make me feel like it was my fault and make me deal with everything."

Grills said she is speaking out now in order to get the real story out to the public.

The message she wants to get across, she said, is "that I'm not heartless. I do know what I did and I take responsibility for it every day."

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