MARION, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – Hundreds of mourners gathered Monday night for a vigil at McCulloch Junior High School in Marion to remember the life of a 14-year-old middle school student who committed suicide at school earlier in the day.
Braylee Rice, 14, of Marion, used her own neck tie to hang herself from the outdoor bleachers at MuCulloch Junior High School, authorities say.
Braylee left class at 8:45 a.m., and was found at 10:17 a.m., Stephen Edwards, Marion Community Schools superintendent said at a Monday afternoon press conference at the Educational Services Center.
The superintendent and Marion police's Deputy Chief Clint Sessoms say there were no witnesses to the suicide. However, a parent of another child says her son saw it all happen.
"She had a sparkle in her eye whenever she came to our house,” says Patricia Lines, the mother of one of Rice’s close friends. “She always had a smile, and she always gave hugs. Everyone in the community almost is out here for her. We loved her."
Jennifer Smith says her son was outside with a group of students when they heard a noise and looked over toward the bleachers. They saw Rice on the bleachers. Shortly after that they heard a loud noise, looked over and saw Rice hanging from the bleachers.
In our research we found Braylee’s name on the school’s top honor roll, listed on the school’s website.
Along with being a good student Smith says Braylee was known for dressing with a gothic style. Smith says her son, who was also friends with Braylee, said Braylee came to school Monday with a piece of paper taped over her mouth with a smiley face drawn on the tape.
For Smith, she says she’s worried about how her son will cope with what he saw.
“He seen it, he seen the whole process, and he knew her so the hardest part is just trying to worry about, you know what's going to happen to him tonight when he closes his eyes. That's my biggest fear,” said Smith.
The superintendent was asked if bullying was a factor in Rice’s death. He said, at this time, bullying is not being linked to Rice's death but the investigation is ongoing.
The district didn't dismiss school Monday because they feared a large majority of students may be going home to an empty house. Parents who requested to pick up their children were allowed to do so.
Grief counselors will be made available to students for the remainder of the week.
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