Charges issued in suicide prank being blamed for 11-year-old's death
A social media and texting prank blamed for the suicide of an 11-year-old boy in Marquette County has resulted in charges.
Tysen Benz of Marquette was taken off life support Monday and died at an Ann Arbor Hospital.
Katrina Goss said Thursday that she found her son, Tysen Benz, hanging by the neck March 14 in his room after seeing social media posts and texts that his 13-year-old girlfriend had killed herself.
Goss said the girl orchestrated the prank, reportedly posing as several other kids to perpetuate the prank. She is the only one facing charges.
"She had pranked her own death," Goss, 41, said of her son's girlfriend. "I don't know what possessed her to do such a weird prank. It's a twisted, sick joke."
Goss says the girl laughed about the situation in school, before she was charged.
The unnamed juvenile is being charged in Marquette County with telecommunication services-malicious use and using a computer to commit a crime, Marquette city police Capt. Michael Kohler said in a news release.
Police would not release the age of the juvenile charged or comment on what relationship the person had with the boy. The prosecutor's office declined to comment.
Goss said that after seeing posts about his girlfriend, Tysen replied over social media that he was going to kill himself. She said those involved in the prank didn't tell an adult even then.
"The whole thing happened in about 40 minutes," Goss said. "He was fine and then I found him. I don't know what she said she did to herself."
A Gofundme page was set up. Here is a statement from the page:
"My son Tysen Benz was an 11 year old student, athlete, comedian, friend, brother, charismatic and all around amazing child. On Tuesday March 14th he impulsively chose to end his own life as a result of a horrific act of a social media prank which is under investigation by authorities. He clung on with the help of life support until Tuesday April 4th. He has now been set free and can Rest In Peace. He was loved by everyone he knew and he will absolutely never be forgotten. Our family is completely heartbroken. I urge families to speak out, reach out and communicate with your children about life's precious gift and the dangers of the internet and texting and how telecommunications can have the same effects as speaking face to face. I want Tysen to be remembered as he was and all the joy he's brought to everyone. Keep his spirit alive by standing strong & fighting against social media bullying!!"