The Boy Who Didn’t Fit In

True-crime research, novel writing research, and updates.

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Robin Lyons, author websiteBLOG POST #224: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific crime involving the death of 17-year-old special needs, high school student.

Like many children his age, the high school junior worked after school at a local franchised, fast-food restaurant.

Nothing justifies harassment or bullying. This teen endured both at school and at his job. After the boy took his own life, the coroner called for a special inquest to determine if the constant ridicule played a role in his death.

Through the inquest, the jury learned that bullies at school called him names and made fun of him. Students knew about the bullying, but teachers and administrators testified they didn’t know. One parent stated he’d complained at a school board meeting specifically about this boy being bullied.

Also learned through the inquest, his boss’s harassment sometimes pushed him to tears. She made him clean the floors while lying on his tummy. Once, when she wasn’t satisfied with a cheeseburger he’d prepared she threw it at him. Witnesses said his boss often called him derogatory names. Other managers complaint to the owners about how his boss treated him.

The inquest jury found the fast-food manager’s abusive treatment of her employee was the primary cause of his death. They charged her with second-degree involuntary manslaughter, a felony.

The fast-food manager denied doing what others testified she’d done, and her defense for calling him names was that her insults were playful. And that the young man didn’t seem bothered by the comments. She later pleaded guilty to third-degree assault. The court sentenced her to two years of supervised probation and 30 days of house arrest. She no longer works for the fast-food franchise.

His parents filed wrongful death lawsuits against the fast-food chain, the parent company, and the school district that they never adequately trained their personnel on bullying. Additionally, the lawsuit against the school district stated the boy was bullied by students and teachers.

The school district’s position stated they hadn’t received a formal complaint about bullying. Numerous parents commented their children were also bullied, and they felt the school did nothing about the problem.

The fast-food chain reached a settlement agreement outside of court. After a judge denied the school district’s request to dismiss the case, they too reached a settlement with the boy’s parents.

On the day of his death, in his bedroom, his parents found his bed neatly made with a class notebook placed atop the bedding. The notebook held several goodbye letters to family and friends. One comment said how it seems so many bullied children feel…

I can’t do this anymore. I don’t fit in.”

My sincere condolences go out to all who have lost a loved one to suicide.

What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

Source: Missourian, Newsner, Columbis Daily Tribune, People

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