The 15-year-old suicide victim sent out a cry for help, so why was it ignored?

By People Staff
Updated April 15, 2010 08:00 AM

She may have gone “to great lengths just to make someone else happy,” as a friend in Ireland recalled, but once 15-year-old Phoebe Prince relocated with her family from County Clare to Massachusetts, she became a target of escalating vicious taunts and smears by her classmates at South Hadley High – until last Jan. 14. That’s when investigators found Phoebe dead in a stairwell of the Princes’ rented house, hanging from a noose she’d fashioned from a scarf.

According to affidavits and eyewitness accounts given to the magazine by schoolmates – most of whom asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation by classmates – Phoebe’s story comes to light in this week’s new issue of PEOPLE. “She was bullied out of pure jealousy,” says a female sophomore at the 760-student South Hadley High, who described Phoebe as “beautiful.”

The attention Phoebe received from male students provoked girls to call her “Irish whore,” says a close female friend. The situation was further exacerbated last fall, when Phoebe caught the attention of school football captain Sean Mulveyhill – who today is one of six teens facing unprecedented charges ranging from stalking to statutory rape. (Lawyers for all six defendants say their clients are not guilty.)

One week before her suicide, the torments grew: Phoebe was shoved into lockers and encouraged on Facebook to kill herself. According to one affidavit, Phoebe so feared being attacked that she asked to walk between two friends at school. Court documents say that Phoebe asked South Hadley officials for help, then later told a friend no action was going to be taken.

For the tragic story of 15-year-old suicide victim Phoebe Prince – and what accusations are facing her six classmates – pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday