“I love you so much just remember that please and I’m so sorry for everything.” That is the text message Brandy Vela sent to her siblings on Tuesday, November 29, moments before committing suicide in the family’s Texas City, Texas, home. The 18-year-old’s parents and grandparents were in her bedroom when she raised a gun to her chest and pulled the trigger.
Brandy’s relatives, including her sister Jackie Vela, believe her death was the result of years of merciless cyberbullying. “People would make up fake Facebook accounts, and they would message her, and she wouldn’t respond, and they would still come at her,” Jackie, 22, told CNN on Thursday, December 1. “They would say really, really mean things like, ‘Why are you still here?’ They would call her fat and ugly. She was beautiful, absolutely; the only thing people could find to pick on her was her weight.”
The bullies also created fake dating profiles. “They would put her number and they would put her pictures [on the sites] and lie about her age and say she is giving herself up for sex for free, to call her,” Jackie said in an interview with KPRC-TV.
Texas City Independent School District spokeswoman Melissa Tortorici told Us Weekly in a statement that Brandy “had a lot of friends and was thought of warmly by her peers and teachers.”
“She did bring it to the school’s attention before Thanksgiving break that she was getting harassing messages to her cell phone outside of school,” Tortorici revealed in the statement. “Our deputy investigated it, and the app that was being used to send the messages was untraceable. We encouraged her to change her phone number. I am not sure if that was done.”
Tortorici added that the school district will continue to cooperate with the authorities. ”If anyone knows of anyone suspected of harassing Brandy, we need that information to be reported to the police. Texas City ISD takes cyberbullying seriously and would penalize to the full extent of the law for any violations,” she wrote.
A prayer vigil will be held today at 6:30 p.m. in the Texas City High School parking lot.
Brandy’s organs, including her striking blue eyes, are being donated to those in need, according to CNN.