Tysen Benz was in his room when he read text messages saying someone he knew had committed suicide.Shortly after, the 11-year-old boy from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula hanged himself.
Now, a 13-year-old girl is facing criminal charges in his death. Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese said the girl posed as someone else when she faked her own death during a text conversation with Tysen. The boy, for reasons still unclear, believed it and killed himself within two hours of receiving the messages, Wiese said.
Wiese said he could not confirm the relationship between Tysen and the girl, but media reports say she was his girlfriend.
“The impact that it had on the boy — there’s a logical connection,” Wiese told The Washington Post. “He did this within hours of the conversation happening via text.”
The girl, whose name was not released, has been charged with malicious use of telecommunication service, punishable by up to six months in juvenile detention, and using a computer to commit a crime, which can carry up to a year in detention. Both are misdemeanor charges.
The incident happened March 14. Nothing seemed amiss when Tysen returned home from school that day, said the boy’s mother, Katrina Goss of Marquette, Mich. He seemed happy and was proud that he had gone to his tutoring session without being reminded, Goss told The Post. She baked him some treats as a reward. After dinner, Tysen went to his room.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Goss went to each of her three sons’ rooms to tuck them in. Tysen’s door was locked, but she was able to open it with her key. At first, she thought her middle son was hiding or playing a trick because he wasn’t in his bed.
“I went in and I thought he was being silly,” Goss told The Post. “I ended up finding him in the closet . … I tried to hurry up and lift him up. I was screaming. I told my oldest son to call 911. My littlest one was bawling.”