The family of 15-year-old Tovonna Holton is in mourning after she took her own life.
Tovonna committed suicide after friends recorded her in the shower, then posted the video on Snapchat. Tovonna’s ex-boyfriend got a hold of the recording and further shared it on Twitter after they broke up.
via The Daily Beast:
The couple had been fighting the night before Tovonna died, longtime pal Christian Coyle-Watts told The Daily Beast, and broke up Sunday morning.
“Tovonna knew [her friend] posted the video, but Tovonna’s boyfriend posted it, trying to expose her in a derogatory way,” Coyle-Watts said. “He did it just because he knew he could, and it would hurt her feelings.”
A sheriff’s department spokesman told The Daily Beast he hadn’t heard of the allegations against Tovonna’s boyfriend.
Tovonna’s mom tried to piece together what happened to her daughter to WFLA.
“Tovonna would say, ‘Mommy, I owe them; I owe them’. I said, ‘What do you mean you owe them?’ I couldn’t understand what was wrong,” Holton-Teamer said.
Hours later, Tovonna’s mother found her in the bathroom with a gunshot wound to the head around 6 p.m. The high-schooler had apparently used her mother’s handgun, which was stashed in her purse, to kill herself.
“I couldn’t get in the bathroom,” Holton-Teamer said tearfully on camera. “The bathroom light was off so I tried to get in and I looked down and I saw the puddle of blood. I tried to apply the pressure, the pressure to her head. I tried to save her.”
The girl’s family went on Facebook to seek answers, WFLA reported.
“They say her friends recorded her in the tub while she was naked and then posted it on Snapchat,” Stefonique Collier, Tovonna’s niece, told The Daily Beast.
Relatives would later learn a close friend allegedly published the nude images—shared with dozens of classmates—without Tovonna’s permission, the mother said.
“I just said, ‘If anybody knows anything, what happened? Have you heard of anything? Do you know who these kids are who have the pictures?’” Tovonna’s aunt, Angel Scott, told WFLA. “I thought it was just pictures and then the kids started inboxing me.”
Scott soon discovered the bullying went as far as nude video of Tovonna, who attended Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel.
After Tovonna’s friend posted the shower recording on Snapchat, people began taking screenshots and sharing them, friend Zoe Vereen said.
Collier said she saw Tovonna, who just turned 15, at the beach last week.
They were “calling her names,” Vereen told The Daily Beast.
Coyle-Watts said Tovonna’s Snapchat recording was meant to be a “body appreciation” post before the ex-boyfriend allegedly published it.
The ex-boyfriend didn’t return messages left by The Daily Beast on Thursday, but he mourned her death on Twitter, writing, “She was so beautiful” and “I wish I can go back in time and prevent all of this.”
“No one is at fault,” he continued in another tweet. “She had problems going on that no one knew about. Let my angel rest in peace.”
Friends and family described Tovonna as a fun-loving girl who played flag football.
“She was always laughing,” Collier said. “Everything, it would be the craziest things, she would always be laughing, always smiling.”
In a heartfelt Facebook tribute, family friend Shannon Nicole wrote, “This angel and her family were a part of our cheer family years ago,” adding that Tovonna “had such a fun spirit and so full of energy.”
“I hate that she had to endure such malice and hurt because of cyberbullying,” the friend wrote. “We need to teach our youth and many young adults about the value of life, compassion and empathy.”
Holton-Teamer told WFLA that Tovonna had been bullied in the past and that she was considering taking her out of the school next year.
A spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the case is under investigation.
“The detectives are looking into all angles,” Eddie Daniels told The Daily Beast.
Wiregrass Ranch High School referred requests for comment to the Pasco County School District.
“At this time, along with the family we’re mourning the loss of Tovonna Holton,” Spencer Pylant, a spokesman for the district, told The Daily Beast. “We’re working with the Pasco sheriff’s office. We’ve turned everything over to them.”
Meanwhile, Holton-Teamer’s friends changed their Facebook profile photos to collages of Tovonna’s face with the words “stop bullying now!” Others asked for help in nabbing the students who harassed Tovonna.
“I want them to pay, to feel what we feeling, even if their child is convicted or in trouble they can go visit their child,” Scott told WFLA.
Such an unnecessary tragedy. Rest in peace, Tovonna.