12-year-old missing girl's body found at Lakeland business, family says she was bullied

Family says she mentioned harming herself before

LAKELAND, Fla. - The mother of the 12-year-old Lakeland girl found dead early this morning, said her daughter was recently the victim of bullying.

Investigators found the body of Rebecca Sedwick at an old cement plant around 2 a.m. Monday. They have not released the official cause of death, but her mother said officials told her it's probably suicide.

"Nobody deserves this," said Tricia Norman, Rebecca's mother.

Norman saw her daughter leave for the bus stop on Monday, but later learned she never made it on the bus and left all her books at home. She filed a missing person's report Monday night.

She told ABC Action News that her daughter was coming off a rough year.

"She was being bullied really bad last year at Crystal Lake Middle School. It got so bad that girls were jumping her at school," she said.

Norman said she filed a complaint with the district, and transferred her to a new school, but recently she said the bullying picked up on social media, with comments like "just go die."

"Kids need to know when they talk to people the way that they do and tell somebody that they're ugly, or that they should go kill themselves, they need to take it more serious, because somebody might listen," Norman said.

A spokesman for the Polk County School District would not confirm whether any complaints were filed, but released the following statement:

"This is an ongoing investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family," said Julie Togba, district spokesman.

Coincidentally on Monday, a Lakeland student kicked off his national bullying campaign at Crystal Lake Middle School, where Rebecca's mother says she was picked on last year.

"Most heartbreaking thing as a mom is I couldn't do anything to stop it," she said. "I didn't know anything about it."

The Polk County Sheriff's Office plans to release the cause of death after the medical examiner completes an autopsy.
 

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