KASSON/MANTORVILLE, Minn. (KTTC) -- Shock and sorrow have overwhelmed the small communities of Kasson and Mantorville after a 7th grader took her own life over the weekend. Rachel Ehmke of MantorvilleMore >>
Shock and sorrow have overwhelmed the small communities of Kasson and Mantorville after a 7th grader took her own life over the weekend.More >>
KASSON/MANTORVILLE, Minn. (KTTC)-- The adjacent communities of Kasson and Mantorville, are still in mourning over Rachel Ehmke's death, but now many are seeking answers -- what led to such a tragic loss? TheMore >>
The adjacent communities of Kasson and Mantorville, are still in mourning over Rachel Ehmke's death, but now many are seeking answersMore >>
KASSON-MANTORVILLE, Minn. (KTTC) -- More details have been released in the death investigation surrounding 7th grader Rachel Ehmke.
Rachel Ehmke's father is speaking out about the final days before his daughter's death.While authorities say bullying and harassment likely did play a role in Rachel's suicide, there's more to the story, including where a text message originated from.
Rick Ehmke said he has been on an emotional and mental rollercoaster since Rachel's death. While he said he doesn't blame the bullies or the school for what happened... more could have been done to prevent such a tragic ending.
Just a few days before her death, a text message went out to several Kasson-Mantorville middle school students addressing Rachel Ehmke in a negative way. Dodge County Sheriff Jim Jensen gives the messages crude details.
"It referred to Rachel as a slut and suggested sending it around to get her out of school," said Sheriff Jensen.
Four girls immediately reported the text message and school officials contacted law enforcement. Sheriff Jensen said the text was traced back to a website, known as Pinger, and then to its source.
"We aren't sure who sent out the text message, the only thing we can say at this time with evidence we've collected is that it came from Rachel's father's home," stated the Sheriff.
Rachel's dad, Rick, and Sheriff Jensen agreed, Rachel could have very well sent the text message.
"She just told me, she said dad. They never did anything, it only got worse," explained Rick Ehmke.
Rick Ehmke, said his 13-year old daughter Rachel was being bullied for more than a year.
"There were no kids taken out of sports because of it, no kids made to say they are sorry. There were no kids that had to clean up the mess that they did to her locker or return the stuff they stole," said Ehmke.
Rick said Rachel was degraded constantly and although school officials knew he says there were never consequences. Now, not only is the family without their daughter, but Rick said these girls will live with the outcome of their actions, forever.
"If I saw them I would have to hug them, because there's not a charge in mankind that is going to bring my daughter back. These kids know who they are, these kids know deep down what was said and that's something they're going to have to live with the rest of their life," explained Ehmke.
Since the suicide, Rick said the bullies and their families have had no contact with the Ehmkes - not a card, a hug nor an apology.
Sheriff Jensen said the County Attorney's Office has determined there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone regarding this case. As for the school district, Superintendent, Mark Matuska said they'll continue to strengthen a number of anti-bullying programs.He says they want to continue working with parents, making sure the difference between right and wrong is established at home and in school.
According to a news release sent by Dodge County Sheriff, Jim Jensen, investigators have been working on finding the source of a text message forwarded to several students' cell phones on April 26. The text referred to Rachel as a "slut" and suggested sending it around to get Rachel out of the school.
Jensen's release states, "Through our investigation, which is still open pending autopsy results, we've determined that the text message in question originated from Rachel's father's residence, and possibly Rachel herself. Due to there being no suicide note left, we can only speculate as to her motivation for sending this message out. We did receive information that she had been talking to friends about trying to transfer out of KM because of problems she had been having there and had mentioned this to her parents on Friday (April 27)."
On April 28, Rachel killed herself.
Rachel's family says she had been dealing with on-going bullying at Kasson-Mantorville Middle School for several months and had mentioned wanting to change schools.
According to the news release, investigators believe harassment and bullying were likely factors in Rachel's death. The news release states, "It appears that she had problems with a number of different people, of different ages, over the past several months. Unfortunately, there was a rush to judgment by many as to who was responsible for this most recent incident. Many of these students who have been singled out, harassed and bullied since her death were in fact students who Rachel told Officer Peck that she was now friends with again. There is not one incident or action done by any particular student(s) that we believe is responsible for Rachel's death."
Investigators say several students, including four who originally reported the text message to Principal Al Hodge, were blamed for the message and had become the targets of bullying and harassment during the week after Rachel's death.
The Kasson Police Department and K-M School District will now review bullying and harassment complaints filed, and consequences for students who participate in this behavior.
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