BROOKSVILLE, Fla. - Jeannette McCants' tearful story about her son being bullied into a tragic suicide touched the hearts of parents throughout Tampa Bay. But the Hernando County Sheriff's investigation into Miguel Rodriguez's death said the 12-year old's death had nothing to do without bullying at all.
Rodriguez was found dead, hanging in his closet Jan. 23. His mother said her son, who was short, was a victim of constant bullying by students because of his size. In an interview, McCants said her son was fearful.
"The kids would just pick on him because he was so short, and smack him around on the bus," she said the day after her son's death.
But investigators interviewed a bus attendant, who said Rodriguez was anything but fearful. Darby Leonard said the child was "very happy" when on the bus, and at times would fight with other kids.
A reading/language arts teacher told a sheriff's detective that Rodriguez came to school with a large cut on his thumb that should have received medical attention. When asked why it wasn't treated, the boy said "he had to hurry and clean up the blood before his mother could see it." He said if his mother found out, "he would be in big trouble."
The teacher said Rodriguez was asked why his grades were dropping, and he said there "were problems at home, and they were big." The child did not elaborate on those problems.
The sheriff's report does not make an official conclusion about what led to Rodriguez committing suicide, but the detective said "no incidents of bullying were identified" as contributing factors.
McCants was also interviewed by sheriff's deputies about the suicide, and she admitted that she discovered a suicide note two weeks before her son killed himself. McCants said she threw the note in the garbage because she didn't take it seriously because her son was "happy and loving and I didn't want to breathe life into the words."
McCants also said the videogame 'Call of Duty' was in part to blame for her son's death, because a main character kills himself in the game just as her son did three weeks ago.
The report doesn't give an official reason for the boy's suicide.