The mother of a 12-year-old girl whose body was found in Lakeland said her daughter committed suicide after she was bullied by former classmates.
The body of Rebecca Ann Sedwick was found just after 2 a.m. Tuesday on the former property of a cement company on North Eastside Drive.
Her mother, Tricia Norman, said Rebecca had left their Lakeland home just before 7 a.m. Monday, but that she did not come home that afternoon.
Norman reported her missing just after 7 p.m., and investigators said they learned the girl never boarded her school bus and that she had left home without her school books.
Norman said she believes Rebecca committed suicide, although investigators have not called the girl's death a suicide.
Rebecca was first bullied by classmates at Crystal Lake Elementary - and then bullied when she continued on to Crystal Lakes Middle School, Norman said. Norman said she then took her daughter out of the middle school and filed an online bullying report with the school district. Norman also said her daughter was beat up by five girls in a two week period at the middle school.
Norman homeschooled her for the rest of the year, then enrolled her in Lawton Chiles Middle Academy for the new school year.
Rebecca had seemed happy at the new school, but she was still being bullied by the same girls, who were sending her messages through social media, Norman said.
Norman said she had bought a cell phone and an electronic reader for Rebecca, which was how she received the messages.
However, Norman said she had no idea anything was wrong until Rebecca disappeared Monday.
"My life is just never going to be the same," she said. "I'm missing a big part of it."
School district officials said their sympathies are with Rebecca's family, and that they are investigating the situation.