LAKELAND -- Two girls, ages 12 and 14, were arrested in a Polk County bullying case after one of them admitted online over the weekend that she harassed a 12-year-old girl who killed herself last month, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday.
Both have been charged with felony aggravated stalking.
Judd said deputies arrested the 14-year-old girl because they were worried she would continue cyberbullying other girls. She is accused of threatening to beat up 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, telling her "to drink bleach and die," and saying she should kill herself, the sheriff said.
After nearly a year of bullying by as many as 15 girls, authorities said, Rebecca climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant Sept. 9 and jumped to her death. Judd said police arrested the 14-year-old girl after she posted Saturday on Facebook that she bullied Rebecca and she didn't care.
"We decided that we can't leave her out there," Judd said. "Who else is she going to torment? Who else is she going to harass?"
Police also arrested a 12-year-old girl who is accused of bullying Rebecca.
Judd said the bullying began after the 14-year-old girl started dating a boy who Rebecca had been seeing.
She "didn't like that and began to harass and ultimately torment Rebecca," Judd said.
The girls were arrested Monday night and released to their parents' custody. They remain on home detention.
The 12-year-old girl was Rebecca's former best friend, but the sheriff said the 14-year-old girl turned her against Rebecca. Other girls also stopped being friends with Rebecca in fear of being bullied, the sheriff said.
Judd said an investigation was ongoing and parents also could face charges. "If we can find any charges we can bring against their parents, we will," Judd said.
Judd said neither girl's parents would bring their daughters to the sheriff's office, so detectives went to their homes and arrested them.
Judd said the 14-year-old was "very cold, had no emotion at all upon her arrest."