Ridge Meadows RCMP is participating in the investigation into the Oct. 10th suicide death of 15-year-old cyberbullying victim Amanda Todd, however false information and rumors flooding the police tip line are hampering progress.
“One of our big challenges right now is false information that is being spread by people who appear to be trying to use Amanda’s story to do harm or make a profit,” said Sgt. Peter Thiessen, spokesperson for Lower Mainland District RCMP Regional Police Service.
RCMP received more than 1,000 tips about the case as of Tuesday afternoon, with tips coming in from across the world.
Investigators spent considerable time Monday responding to rumours spreading through online and social media.
One unfounded allegation involved the release of information by Internet “hacktivist” group Anonymous, identifying a Lower Mainland man as Todd’s tormenter.
Another rumour involved the supposed release of Todd’s autopsy photos. This was quickly debunked by the B.C. Coroner’s Service but nevertheless caused extreme stress for Todd’s family and distracted investigators for hours.
The intense media attention regarding Amanda’s death has also led to a number of fake websites and accounts that purport to be fundraising for the Todd family.
“Taking advantage of a family’s grief is despicable. We want to get the word out that there is one real account and anyone who is interested can make a donation at any RBC branch to the Amanda Todd Trust Account,” said Thiessen.
The family established the account to handle unsolicited donations from people who have been touched by Amanda’s story and want to contribute to a positive legacy.
Serious crime teams in Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows are working together, looking at who may have played a significant role in Todd’s suicide.
“We’re following up on each individual tip in an effort to gain the evidence we need to lay an appropriate charge if we’re able to do that under the criminal code,” said Theissen.
Last month, Todd posted a video on Youtube called, “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm.”
In the video, Todd describes how she was bullied online and at school, about her struggles with drugs and alcohol and harming herself.
She also describes being blackmailed by an Internet predator. After telling Todd how beautiful she was, the man asked Todd to flash him on her friend’s webcam. When she did, the man threatened to send the photo to all of Todd’s friends and family if she didn’t provide him with more nude pictures of herself. When she didn’t comply, the man sent the photos.
RCMP investigated the matter at the time, but no suspect was identified.
Todd grew up in Maple Ridge, where she attended Westview and Maple Ridge secondary schools before moving to Port Coquitlam to escape the bullying she endured while attending school locally.
School District No. 42 spokesperson Irena Pochop said student safety is a top priority for the school district.
“With respect to … Amanda’s case, in particular, we can only say that the district did have significant school, counsellling and community supports in place for Amanda, and that we also worked closely with the RCMP to try to keep her safe,” said Pochop. “We, of course, always review our response in all cases to see if anything was missed or if anything could be done differently in the future, but at no point did the district ever underestimate the seriousness of Amanda’s situation.”
Coquitlam Serious Crime investigators are asking people with information related to the Amanda Todd investigation to share it via email. Investigators are asking the public to share a description of the pertinent information, their name and contact information at email@example.com.