Dec. 7, 2007 — -- The woman linked to a MySpace hoax that apparently led to the suicide of Megan Meier said she only learned of the cruel messages that were being sent to Meier after the 13-year-old took her own life.
A statement released Friday by Lori Drew's lawyer said that Drew never sent any messages to Meier through a fake MySpace account. Meier hanged herself last year shortly after receiving nasty messages from a person she believed to be a boy named "Josh Evans," who had contacted her through the social networking site.
The statement includes no direct apology for what happened, except to say "the Drew family is also sorry that their family, friends and neighbors have had to endure the stresses associated with the harassment directed toward the Drews." It also said that the Drews expressed their sympathies to the Meier family.
Evans never existed, and the extent of Drew's involvement in the hoax has been unclear. Meier's parents have blamed Drew for the fake MySpace profile, and for their daughter's death.
"[T]he Drew family mourns the death of Megan every day," the statement said. "Lori Drew has been a high-profile target of extreme criticism for things she did not do."
According to a police report filed last year, police say Drew told them she instigated and monitored the Josh Evans account so she could see what Megan Meier was saying about Drew's own teenage daughter. The local prosecutor has told ABC News that he believes the police report overstated Drew's involvement in the incident.
On Friday, Drew said she did not create "or direct anyone to create" the MySpace page, though she was aware that her daughter and an 18-year-old employee created the account. She said she never sent any messages to Meier.
Meier and Josh developed a virtual friendship that lasted more than a month before things inexplicably took a downward turn.
According to the local prosecutor, Jack Banas, the 18-year-old employee named Ashley admitted that she created the fake MySpace account.
"Megan gets an e-mail, or a message from Josh on her MySpace Oct. 15, 2006, saying, 'I don't know if I want to be friends with you any longer because I hear you're not nice to your friends,'" Tina Meier, Megan's mother, said on "GMA."
According to Banas, a friend of Drew's daughter had gained access to the MySpace account and sent those messages. The next day, Ashley, posing as Josh, got into an argument with Megan online that ended with Josh saying that the world would be better off without Megan.
Megan hanged herself that day.
Drew said she was not at home when those final messages were being sent.
On Monday, Banas said he would not file criminal charges against Drew.
But the case has stirred public outrage and has turned Drew into a pariah in what neighbors described as an otherwise placid bedroom community outside St. Louis.
Last year, after neighbors learned of Drew's involvement in the hoax, someone threw a rock through her family's window; the other week, someone phoned in a fake 9-1-1 call to Drew's home.
Bloggers have posted Drew's name, address and phone number online, at times along with pictures of her house where she lives with her husband and two children.
Drew has been forced to shut down the small advertising business she has run for the last nine years, her lawyer said. Dardenne Prairie residents told ABC News that people have screamed threats as they drove by the Drews' house.
The Drews' lawyer, Jim Briscoe, told ABC News that the Drews had not decided whether they would stay in the neighborhood.
"They're viewing their options," he said. "It's not very pleasant in the neighborhood."
The full text of the Drew family statement issued by their attorney is below:
This week, Prosecuting Attorney Jack Banas issued his report concerning the death of Megan Meier. His investigation included a review of all reports of law enforcement agencies involved with this case and interviews with several of the individuals involved. During this investigation, the Drew family has not commented to the media. Now that the investigation is concluded, we wish to issue this statement.
First and foremost, the Drew family mourns the death of Megan every day. They previously expressed their sympathies to the Meier family, but the Meiers have made it clear that they do not wish to speak to the Drews, and they have honored the Meier's request.
Contrary to statements reported in various news media around the nation in recent weeks, 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. The MySpace account was in place for approximately 29 days. It is undisputed that all messages sent were positive until the last 24 hours.
Lori Drew was not aware of any mean, nasty or negative comments made by anyone against Megan until after Megan took her own life. In fact, the first negative message was sent by a teenager from another residence, and several other negative comments were made by other teenagers at different locations. The negative comments that were sent by the teenage girl at the Drew's residence occurred when Lori was not home.
Lori Drew has been a high-profile target of extreme criticism for things she did not do. This has caused considerable damage to the reputation of the Drew family, both in our community and across the nation. The avalanche of criticism forced Lori to discontinue the advertising business she has had in the St. Charles County area for the past nine years. Lori is saddened that businesses that advertised with her company have been harassed in ways that have impacted them both professionally and personally.
The Drew family is also sorry that their family, friends and neighbors have had to endure the stresses associated with the harassment directed toward the Drews.
There are many accusations that various members of the Drew family have created websites or are participating in internet blogs regarding this matter. The Drews have not and will not participate in any website or blog regarding this matter. Any internet message that purports to be a member of the Drew family is being managed by an imposter and undoubtedly is being done for the purpose of further damaging the Drew's reputation.