ST. LOUIS (AP) - Tina Meier has told the story of her 13-year-old daughter Megan's 2006 suicide to teachers, TV talk show hosts and parents across the country. Now she's helping to train local police officers on the unflinching, often brutal world of electronic harassment.
More than 70 officers from two dozen law enforcement agencies in Missouri and Illinois gathered Wednesday for a daylong cyberbullying workshop led by Maier. Her daughter killed herself after an Internet hoax led by an adult woman who lived four houses away from the Meier family in St. Charles County.
All but a handful of states now have laws covering either cyberbullying or electronic harassment. But Meier said prosecutors and judges remain reluctant to forcefully apply those statutes.
The conference began Tuesday at the Truman Hotel in Jefferson City and by Wednesday several attendees became sick with symptoms that include coughing, fever, chest pain, and muscle ache. By Thursday, 27 of the 100 association members had fallen ill with five taken to the hospital. One remains hospitalized.
Cape County Coroner John Clifton tells KTRS news he had to take his deputy to the hospital."He was there for five hours. They didn't know what it was. They assured it wasn't contagious." Clifton tells KTRS News among those ill are the Perry County coroner and both the Scott County coroner and his deputy.
The general manager of the Truman Hotel, Lisa Steiner, told KOMU-TV the Department of Health investigated the hotel today and could not find a problem. Steiner said the investigators were not able to advise her on any action to take. The rooms of those who became ill have been closed off.