MARCH 29, 2010 PRESS CONFERENCE

GOOD MORNING. TODAY, I'M JOINED BY MY FIRST ASSISTANT AND DEPUTY FIRST ASSISTANT, RENEE STEESE AND ELIZABETH DUNPHY FARRIS, CHIEF DAVID LABRIE OF THE SOUTH IlADLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT, LmUTENANT ROBIN WmTNEY OF THE MASACHUSETTS STATE POLICE DETECTIVE UNIT ASSIGNED TO MY OFFICE AND, OTHER STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, TO UPDATE THE PUBLIC WITH REGARD TO MY OFFICE'S

INVESTIGATION INTO THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DEATH OF FIFTEEN YEAR OLD PHOEBE l-RINCE, OF SOUTH HADLEY, ON JANUARY 14TH OF TIns YEAR THIS INVESTIGATION HAS RECEIVED WIDESPREAD MEDIA

ATTENTION.

TO DATE, I'VE REFRAINED FROM

COMMENTING ON THE SPECIFIC FACTS OF TIllS ON .. GOING DEATH INVESTIGATION TO ALLOW LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS SUFFICIENT TIME TO CONDUCT TlIEIR INVESTIGATION, OUTSIDE OF TIIE PUBLICITY PHOEBE'S DEATH HAS GENERATED. MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE

1

toLO/LOO'd 8SZ;P#

3801S-Sdn 3Hl

PPL~S898LP SP:SL OLOZ;/8Z/80

DETECTIVES, WITH ASSISTANCE FROM OFFICERS OF THE SOUTH HADLEY .POLICE DEPARTMENT HAVE BEEN WORKING DILIGENTLY FOR THE LAST TEN WEEKS,

INTERVIEWING

WITNESSES

AND

COLLECTING

DOCUMENTATION IN A REASONED AND PROFESSIONAL MANNER THEIR WORK IS ON .. GOlNG. HOWEVER, IN THE INTEREST OF PROVIDING THE PUBLIC WITH SOME OF THE RESULTS OF THEIR INVESTIGATION, AND TO CORRECT MISLEADING OR FALSE INFORMATION ABOUT PHOEBE·S DEATB~ I'LL ALSO PROVIDE A MORE COMPLETE ACCOUNT OF THE EVENTS SURROUNDING PHOEBE'S DEATH. IN ADDITION, TODAY, I'M ANNOUNCING THE INITIATION OF CRIMINAL AND DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS IN THIS

. MATTER

ON JANUARY 14, 2010, AT APPROXIMATELY 4:30 P.M.,

PHOEBE PRINCE'S YOUNGER SISTER RETURNED TO THE FAMiLY'S HOME AT_NEWTON STREET IN SOUTH HADLEY AND DISCOVERED HER SISTER'S BODY; SHE IM:MEDIATELY

SOUGHT HELP.

WHEN POLICE AND ElVIERGENCY

PERSONNEL ARRIVED, THEY ENCOUNTERED PHOEBE'S

2

jI L 0/2:00· d 882:j1#

3::J01S-Sdn 3Hl

j1j1L~88~8LjI 8j1:SL OLOZ/B2/80

LIFELESS BODY HANGING IN THE STAIRWELL LEADING TO THE FAMILY~S SECOND FLOOR APARTMENT. SHE WAS WEARING THE CLOTHES SHE HAD WORN TO SCHOOL THAT DAY.

A SUBSEQUENT POST MORTEM VIEW OF HER BODY, BY THE MEDICAL EXAMINER.; DR.. ANDREW W. SEXTON, WAS CONDUCTED ON JANUARY 15TH• DR. SEXTON RULED THE CAUSE OF PHOEBE PRINCE'S DEATH WAS ASPHYXIA DUE TO HANGING AND THE MANNER OF HER DEATH WAS SUICIDE .. INVESTIGATORS HAVE SINCE ESTIMATED HER TIME OF DEATH TO BE BETWEEN 2:48 P.M. AND 4:30 P.M. ON JANUARY

FORENSIC SEARCHES OF PHOEBE'S BEDROOM, CELLULAR TELEPHONE AND THE FAMILY'S COMPUTER HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED. IN ADDITION, INVESTIGATORS HAVE IDENTIFmn THE LAST PERSON TO HAVE COMMUNICATED W" PHOEBE PRIOR TO HER DEATH, AS WELL AS IDENTIFIED FACULTY, STAFF, ADMINISTRATORS AND FELLOW STUDENTS AT SOUTH HADLEY mGH SCHOOL BELffiVED TO HAVE RELEVANT INFORMATION.

3

PlO!800·d 882:P#

3::JOlS-Sdn 3Hl

PPL~88~8LP 8P:Sl OL02:!S2:!80

INVESTIGATORS HAVE SPOKEN TO COUNTLESS INDlVIDUALS THROUGHOUT TmS INVESTIGATION.. WRITTEN OR RECORDED STATEMENTS HAVE BEEN OBTAINED FROM MORE THAN FIFTY INDIVIDUALS.

FltOM INFORMATION KNOWN TO INVESTIGATORS THUS F~ IT APPEARS THAT PHOEBE'S DEATH ON JANUARY 14m FOLLOWED A TORTUOUS DAY FOR HER, IN WIDeR SHE WAS' StJBJECTED TO VERBAL HARASSMENT AND THREATENED PHYSICAL ABUSE. ACCORDING TO THE INVESTIGATION, THE HARASSMENT OCCURRED WHILE SHE STUDIED IN THE SCHOOL'S LIBRARY AROUND LUNCH PERIOD, WALKED IN THE SCHOOL'S HALLWAY NEAR THE END OF THE SCHOOL DAY AND AFTER SCHOOL, AS SHE WALKED ON NEWTON STREET TOWARD HER HOME. THE HARASSMENT REPORTED TO HAVE OCCURRED THAT DAY IN THE SCHOOL'S LffiRARY, APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED IN THE PRESENCE OF A FACULTY MEMB~ SEVERAL STUDENTS, BUT WENT UNREPORTED TO SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS UNTIL AFTER PHOEBE'S DEATH. ON THE DAY OF HER DEATH, PRIMARILY THREE INDIVIDUALS, ONE MALE AND TWO FEMALE, WERE

4

P L Olpoo 'd 882:P#

3H01S-Sdn 3Hl

PPL~88~ELP 8P:SL OL02:/S2:/80

INVOLVED IN THIS ASSAULTIVE BEHAVIOR WHICH APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN MOTIVATED BY THE GROUP'S DISPLEASURE WITH PHOEBE'S BRIEF DATING RELATIONSIDP WITH THE MALE STUDENT THAT HAD ENDED SOME SIX WEEKS PREVIOUS.

THE INVESTIGATION ALSO HAS REVEALED THAT THE EVENTS OF JANUARY 14TH WERE NOT ISOLATED. RATHER, THEY WERE THE CULMINATION OF A NEARLY THREE MONTH CAMPAIGN OF VERBALLY ASSAULTIVE BEHAVIOR AND THREATS OF PHYSICAL HARM TOWARD PHOEBE, ON SCHOOL GROUNDS, BY SEVERAL SOUTH HADLEY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. THEIR CONDUCT FAR EXCEEDED THE LIMITS OF NORMAL TEENAGE RELATIONSHIP .... RELATED QUARRELS.

EVIDENCE OF THIS CONDUCT WAS PRESENTED TO A HAMPSHIRE COUNTY GRAND JURY. ON FRIDAY~ THE GRAND JURY RETURNED FELONY INDICTMENTS AGAINST THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUALS:

a). SEAN MULVEYlllLL, AGED SEVENTEEN, OF SOUTH HADLEY, MASSACHUSETTS CHARGING ONE COUNT EACH OF

5

t' l 011100· d 88Zt'#

3(J01S-Sdn 3Hl

PPltt8811Clt' St':SL OlOZ/sZ/80

STATUTORY RAPE, VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS, WITH BODILY INJURY RESULTING, CRIMINAL HARASSMENT, AND DISTURBANCE OF A SCHOOL ASSEMBLY;

b). KAYLA NAREY, AGED SEVENTEEN; OF SOUTH

HADLEY, CHARGING ONE COUNT EACH OF VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS, WlTII BODILY INJURY RESULTING, CRIMINAL HARASSMENT, AND DISTURBANCE OF A SCHOOL ASSEMBLY;

c). AUSTIN' RENAUD, AGED EIGHTEEN, OF

SPRINGFIELD, CHARGING ONE COUNT OF' STATUTORY RAPE;

d). ASHLEY LONGE, AGED SIXTEEN, OF SOUTH HADLEY, CHARGING ONE COUNT OF VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS, WITH BODILY INJURY RESULTING, AS A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER;

e). FLANNERY MULLINS, AGED SIXTEEN, OF SOUTII HADLEY, CHARGING ONE COUNT OF VIOLATION OF CML RIGHTS, WITH BODILY INJURY RESULTING, AS A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER, AND ONE COUNT OF STALKING, AS ,A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER;

1). SHARON CHAN ON VELAZQUEZ, AGED SIXTEEN, OF

SOUTH HADLEY, CHARGING ONE COUNT OF VIOLATION OF

6

P l o/soo . d 88GP#

3::J01S-Sdn 3Hl

PPl98898lP 8P:Sl OlOG/82:/80

CML RIGHTS~ AS A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER, AND ONE COUNT OF STALKING, AS A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER

IN ADDITION, LAST WEEK, POLICE SOUGHT AND OBTAINED FROM THE HAMPSHIRE/FRANKLIN JUVENILE COURT, FOUR DELINQUENCY COMPLAINTS NAMING mREE JUVENILES, ALL FEMALES, FROM SOUTH HADLEY. TWO OF THE DELINQUENCY COMPLAINTS CHARGE ONE. COUNT EACH OF A VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTSlt WITII BODILY INJURY RESULTING,. CRIMINAL HARASSMENT AND DISTURBANCE OF A SCHOOL ASSEMBLY. ONE OF THE DELINQUENCY COMPLAINTS CHARGES ONE COUNT EACH OF A VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS, CRIMINAL HARASSMENT, ASSAULT BY MEANS OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON, TO WIT: A BOTTLE, CAN OR SIMILAR BEVERAGE CONTAINER AND DISTURBANCE OF A SCHOOL ASSEMBLY. IN ADDITION, ONE OF THESE JUVENILES WAS CHARGED, IN A SEPARATE DELINQUENCY COMPLAINT INVOLVING A SECOND VICTIM; WITH ONE COUNT OF ASSAULT AND BATTERY. EACH DEFENDANT WILL BE SUMMONED TO COURT FOR ARRAIGNMENT ON THE CHARGES IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

7

P L o /z.oo . d 882:P#

3::JOlS-Sdn 3Hl

WlDLE I APPRECIATE THERE WILL BE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE tHAT NO CHARGES SHOULD HAVE BEEN BROUGHT IN TIDS CASE, AND OTHERS WHO WILL BEUEVE THESE CHARGES DO NOT GO FAR ENOUGH, THE DECISIONS WERE MADE AFTER CONSIDERABLE THOUGHT AND REVIEW OF THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED. WE'VE SOUGHT THOSE CHARGES THAT, IN OUR OPINION, ARE THE MOST APPROPRIATE FOR THE ACTIONS OF THESE STUDENTS .. THE INVESTIGATION REVEALED RELENTLESS ACTMTY DIRECTEJ) TOWARD PHOEBE, DESIGNED TO HUMILATE HER AND TO MAKE IT· IMPOSSmLE FOR HER TO REMAIN AT SCHOOL. THE BULLYlNG~ FOR HER, BECAME INTOLERABLE.

-I'M ALSO AWARE THAT THERE HAS BEEN CONCERN AMONG SOME REGARDING THE LENGTH OF TmS INVESTIGATION. IN CONDUCTING CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS, GENERALLY, IT'S CRITICAL TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND, GATHER ALL THE FACTS AND, AT THE END OF THE INVESTIGATION, MAKE A FAIR AND REASONED DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE CONDUCT AT ISSUE WAS CRlMJNAL. WE BELIEVE THIS HAS BEEN DONE IN THIS CASE.

8

VLO/SOO·d 8S2:1I#

3::J01S-Sdn 3Hl

NEITHER THE RIGHTS OF THE VICTIM NOR THE ACCUSED ARE PROTECTED BY A RUSH TO JUDGMENT, FUELED BY SPECULATION AND/OR RUMOR. DUE TO THE INTENSE MEDIA ATTENTION THAT FOLLOWED PHOEBE'S DEATH, INVESTIGATORS SPENT A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TIME SORTING OUT FACT FROM FICTION. MUCH OF WHAT BAD BEEN REPORTED, AT TIMES FROM UNIDENTIFmD SOURCES, WAS NOT FACTUAL, SA VlNG BEEN THE RESULT OF SECOND ... , TIDRD- OR EVEN FOURTH ... HAND SOURCES.

EARLY ON, PHOEBE'S DEATH WAS CLAIMED TO HAVE BEEN A RESULT OF CYBERBULLYING. TIDS LED INVESTIGATORS TO PROCEED WITH LEGAL PROCESS TO DETERMINE THE E~TENT TO WHICH ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL PLAYED A ROLE IN PHOEBE'S DEATH~ A SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLE, AND DELAY FOR INVESTIGATORS IN THIS CASE HAS BEEN THE INEXPLICABLE LACK OF COOPERATION FROM INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS, IN PARTICULAR, FACEBOOK AND CRAIGSLIST. HOWEVER, r WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT THE ACTIONS OF THESE STUDENTS WAS PRIMARILY CONDUCTED ON SCHOOL

9

P l c/soc . d S8ZPtf

3::J01S-Sdn 3Hl

PPL~8S~8LP SP:SL OlOZ/8Z/80

GROUNDS DURING SCHOOL HOURS AND WHILE SCHOOL WAS IN SESSION. THE USE OF ELECTRONIC SOCIAL NETWORKS PLAYED A ROLE IN THE MANNER IN WlDeH SOME OF THE HARASSMENT WAS DELIVERED; BUT ITS ROLE WAS SECONDARY TO THE ACTS OF STUDENTS USING COMMONLY UNDERSTOOD BULLYING METHODS.

TO THAT END, CERTAIN POINTS NEED TO BE CLARIFIED. FIRST, CONTRARY TO PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED REPORTS, PHOEBE'S HARASSMENT WAS COMMON KNOWLEDGE TO MOST OF THE SOUTH HADLEY mGH SCHOOL STUDENT· BODY. THE INVESTIGATION HAS REVEALED THAT CERTAIN FACULTY, STAFF AND ADMINISTRATORS OF THE mea SCHOOL ALSO WERE ALERTED TO THE HARRASSMENT OF PHOEBE PRINCE . BEFORE HER DEATH. PRIOR TO PHOEBE'S DEATH, HER MOTHER SPOKE WITH AT LEAST TWO SCHOOL STAFF MEMBERS ABOUT THE HARASSMENT PHOEBE HAD REPORTED TO HER. SO:ME BYSTANDERS~ INCLUDING AT LEAST FOUR STUDENTS AND TWO FACULTY MEMBERS INTERVENED WHILE THE HARASSMENT WAS OCURRING OR

10

PlO/OlO·d 88GP#

3::JD1S-Sdn 3Hl

PPL~88~8LP SP:Sl OlOG/SG/80

REPORTED IT TO ADMINISTRATORS. A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF HARRASSMENT ASSOCIATED WITH TEEN DATING RELATIONSmpS SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN PREVALENT AT SOUTH BADLEY mea SCHOOL. THAT, IN TURN, BROUGHT ABOUT AN INCONSISTENT INTERPRETATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF THE SCHOOL'S CODE OF CONDUCT WHEN INCIDENTS WERE OBSERVED AND REPORTED.

IN REVIEWING THIS INVESTIGATION, WE'VE

CONSIDERED WHETHER OR NOT THE ACTIONS OR OMISSIONS TO ACT, BY FACULTY, STAFF AND ADM1NISTRATORS OF THE SOUTH HADLEY PUBLIC SCHOOLS INDMDUALLY, OR COLLECTIVELY, AMOUNTED TO CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. IN OUR OPINION, IT DID NOT. NEVERTHELESS THE ACTIONS, OR INACTIONS, OF SOME ADULTS AT THE SCHOOL ARE TROUBLESOME. THIS CASE UNDERSCORES TIlE NEED FOR CONSISTENT IMPLEMENTATION OF DISCIPLINARY POLICIES IN AREA SCHOOLS REGARDING BULLYING. IN ADDITION, TRAINING OF FACULTY, STAFF AND ADMINISTRATORS RELATING TO

11

PLO/LLO·d 88GPft

3::J01S-Sdn 3Hl

AGGRESSIONAL BEHAVIOR IN TEEN DATING RELATIONSIDPS IS VITAL4 SO TOO, CURRICULUMS SHOULD BE INTEGRATED TO INCLUDE PROGRAMS AIMED AT BtJILDING STUDENTS' SKILLS~ PARTICULARLY AS BYSTANDERS, TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES ASSOCIATED wrra BULLYING.

TO THAT END, WE'VE OFFERED, AND CONTINUE TO OFFER, HELP AND EXPERTISE TO AREA EDUCATORS TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF BULLYING AT AREA mGR SCHOOLS. TIDS INCLUDES ASSISTING SCHOOLS IN IMPLEMENTING OWNING UP, A NATIONAL GENDER·BASED PROGRAM ADDRESSING mGH SCHOOL BULLYING ISSUES. OWNING UP IS A PROGRAM DESIGNED BY ROSALIND WISEMAN, THE AUTHOR OF QUEEN BEES AND WANNABEES, FROM WHICH THE MOTION PICTURE "MEAN GIRLS" WAS BASED4 IN ADDITION, STAFF FROM MY COMMUNITY EDUCATION AND OUTREACH UNIT ARE AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE TRAININGS TO EDUCATORS, FREE OF CHARGE~ TO ASSIST FACULTY AND STAFF ON THE RECOGNITION OF MORE SUBTLE TYPES OF BULLYING, LIKE RELATIONAL AGGRESSION AND CYBERBULL YING.

12

vlO'/ZlOd 88ZiI#

3Cl01S-Sdn 3Hl

I WANT TO REMIND THE COMMUNITY THAT THE INITIATION OF CRIMINAL AND DELINQUECY PROCEEDINGS IN THIS MATTER IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF A LONG ROAD TO TRIAL. TO THE EXTENT MATTERS ARE CONDUCTED IN THE JlNENILE COURT, PROCEEDINGS MAY NOT ALWAYS BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND I'M LIMITED IN THE TYPE OF INFORMATION THA'r CAN BE DISCLOSED.

FINALLYt I WANT TO EXPRESS MY DEEPEST SYMPATHIES TO THE PRINCE FAMILY. I'VE MET WITH THEM PERSONALLY DURING TmS INVESTIGATION~ BUT I ALSO WANT TO PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGE rnrra COOPERATION AND PATIENCE THOUGHOUT TInS INVESTIGATION .. " THE PRINCE FAMILY HAS ASKED THAT THE PUBLIC REFRAIN FROM VIGILANTISM IN FAVOR OF ALLOWING THE JUDICIAL" SYSTEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO PROVIDE A MEASURE OF JUSTICE FOR PHOEBE. NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR RETRIBUTION OR REPRISAL WITH AN AIM TOWARD TARGETING THOSE NAMED IN THESE INDICTMENTS .. RATHER, TillS SHOULD BE A TIME OF REFLECTION AND THOUGHT ADom THE ROLE EACH OF US CAN PLAY IN

13

VLO/8LO"d 882:v#

3::JOlS-Sdn 3Hl

vvL98S98Lv 09:SL OL02:/B2:/S0

RECOGNIZING AND TEACHING CIVILITY AND RESPECT FOR ONE ANOTHER. IT IS OUR HOPE THAT THE ISSUE OF BULLYING, HOWEVER SUBTLE OR OVERT, WILL BE ADDRESSED IN A MORE COMPREHENSIVE WAY - PERHAPS, THEN, MORE LIVES WILL BE SAVED AND THE KlND OF SUFFERING FELT BY PHOEBE, HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS WILL BE ENDED.

14

PLO/PLO'd 88(:P#

3Cl01S-Sdn 3Hl

PPLgS8g8LP Og:SL OLO(:/8Z/80

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful