Cyber-bullying is a hidden terror that’s quickly creeping its way into the lives of thousands of people. They have fallen victim to the vicious attacks of cyberbullies, sitting behind their screens, while typing away messages of pure hatred. Social media, an integral part of most young people’s lives, has become the ultimate platform for cyberbullies to incite fear and ruthlessly attack their victims.
Many lives have been destroyed by the effects of cyber-bullying, and in some tragic instances, lost. What started out as a vicious online attack between two teenage girls, fighting over the same boy, turned into a real life cold blooded murder that ended an innocent life.
A Normal Childhood
Growing up in a middle class neighborhood in a small suburb of Pinellas Park, outside Tampa Bay, Florida, Rachel had a normal childhood with a loving family. Her dad was a truck driver and her mother was a special-ed teacher. Rachel began to rebel against her parents’ rules in her early teenage years, but what teenager doesn’t?
Rachel was very petite at 5’4” and 115 pounds. She had blond hair and eyes as blue as the ocean. Her MySpace page at the time described her as an “independent chick” and featured a photo of her on her bed posing with a flirtatious look.
A Dangerous Path
Initially, Rachel rebelling against her parents’ rules seemed to be just a “stage” she was going through, but it quickly escalated into an alarming and dangerous situation. When Rachel was 15, she was caught in a car with a 19-year-old boy in the school parking lot, resulting in him being charged with a felony sex offense.
Lost Her Way
Rachel continuously engaged in erratic and unsafe behavior. She would sneak out of her house often, sleeping in strangers’ cars, and in lounge chairs at apartment pools. In Rachel’s sophomore year of high school, she ran away from home 14 times.
A Bad Kid
By the age of 15, Rachel moved in with a boyfriend, and she dropped out of school a year later. An ex-boyfriend of her claims that they were “bad kids,” and spent a lot of time screaming at each other. On at least one occasion, Rachel’s ex alleged she held a knife to his throat, but when he dared her to used it, she dropped it, cried and ran away.
Life Back On Track
When Rachel and her boyfriend finally broke off their toxic relationship in the summer of 2008, she knew it was time for her to get her life back on track. Rachel finally got her GED, her own apartment, her own car, and a full-time job at Applebees. Every weekend she’d have dinner with her parents.
Rachel’s new life included a new boyfriend, 19-year-old Josh. The duo had known each other since elementary school, and reconnected at a mutual friend’s party. Now that Rachel’s life seemed to get back on track, she was going back to her old ways by dating Josh, a notorious “bad boy” with tattoos and a pit-bull. Full of himself, Josh took countless selfies showing off his muscles. But, his bad boy image didn’t stop there.
By 19, Josh was already a father to a child, and had cheated on the mother of his child. Fully aware of his scandalous ways and with many red flags warning her to stay away, Rachel Wade continued to date Josh. And in no time, Josh proved his conniving ways by already dating another girl, Sarah, while dating Rachel.
The Other Girl
Sarah was a honor roll student with straight A’s and known to have a good head on her shoulders. She wasn’t preoccupied with boys like the rest of her friends, instead, she enjoyed singing, dancing, and keeping busy with her studies. Sarah was best friends with her parents, earning her the nickname “sidekick” for not wanting to leave her dad’s side. Sarah didn’t have much of a social life, but that would quickly change when her life crossed paths with Josh at the Chick-fil-A he worked at.
A Different Person
Josh Camacho and Sarah began dating right away. But, Sarah’s parents didn’t approve of Josh from the get go, with her dad apparently calling Josh “The Rat.” But her parents respected her choice and took time to get to know Josh. But, they soon realized Sarah’s grades started slipping, she was skipping school, and her life was centered only around Josh, “everything else was pushed aside.”
Sarah Ludemann had a midnight curfew, which meant Josh would hang out with her until then and afterwards, sleep over at Rachel’s place. Rachel quickly found out about Sarah, and used an online forum to attack her, sending her messages on MySpace, warning her to leave Josh alone. On one instance, on her Myspace page, Rachel wrote “When we first met I was madly in love . . . but since then things have changed . . . You called me names, you slept around . . . I deserve so much better!”, apparently about Josh. A comment from Sarah on the post suggested that Josh had “found better.”
Rachel became enraged with jealousy. She got Sarah’s phone number from Josh and then, the harassment began. Rachel called Sarah “fat” and that she “looked like a dog.” Sarah assumed Rachel was just an angry ex-girlfriend of Josh’s, since Josh had led her to believe she was the only one he was seeing. But, when the harassment only got worse and unbearable, Sarah decided to call Rachel. The reality soaked in: Sarah realized she was being played.
Sarah felt betrayed, but ironically her anger was directed towards Rachel instead of Josh. Sarah turned up during Rachel’s Thursday night karaoke shift at Applebees, making up inappropriate lyrics to taunt Sarah. She would also sit in Rachel’s section at work, purposely knocking things onto the floor so Rachel would have to clean them up. In retaliation, Rachel would spit and put hair in Sarah’s food. There was also an alleged incident at Taco Bell where Sarah and her friends sprayed Rachel with silly string.
The Tragic Night
On April 15, 2009, the events of this evening have sadly shattered many lives. Sarah and Josh were together at Josh’s sister Janet’s house. At around 11 p.m., Rachel knowing they were together, allegedly pulled up nearby the house and started texting Josh. Josh, spitefully, showed Sarah the messages, infuriating her. Sarah went looking for Rachel, wanting to have a physical fight with her to end their drama for good.
On The Prowl
Sarah, Janet, and another friend were on the prowl to find Rachel. On the way, they ran into another of Sarah’s friends, who told them that Rachel was at a friend’s house, Javier Laboy. When Sarah and her friends arrived at Javier’s, they saw Rachel in the front of the house, sitting on the hood of her car. Rachel was outnumbered, but she was prepared, hiding a razor sharp steak knife in her hand.
When the bitter enemies locked eyes, without a second thought, they both charged. Rachel grabbed the knife and stabbed Sarah twice. Janet claims she saw Rachel coming towards Sarah with a knife in her hand and then stabbed her, once in the shoulder and once in the chest. But Javier said that Rachel didn’t approach Sarah with a knife. He claims there was a brief fight, and then Rachel pulled out a knife possibly in self defense.
On the blood soaked ground, Sarah was bleeding profusely from the chest while a friend pressed a shirt against the wound, trying to stop the blood, but with no success. Sarah had become unconscious and unresponsive. As paramedics rushed Sarah to the hospital, the police began their investigation taking witness statements, with most of them saying Rachel stabbed Sarah.
A Young Life Lost
The police found Rachel nearby the horrific scene, sitting on a bench and casually smoking a cigarette. Officer Trehy was shocked by her lack of emotion. By the time Rachel was taken for questioning, Sarah was pronounced dead at the hospital, succumbing to the fatal stab at her heart.
Rachel was tried as an adult on July 21, 2010, and spent her 20th birthday in jail. Officer Trehy testified that Rachel was “more concerned about having a cigarette than the fact that a girl … was out on the street … pretty much gone.” The Pinellas County medical examiner also testified that the force required to stab someone in the heart was so great, suggesting in turn that Rachel could only have had one intention. Meanwhile, Prosecutor Wesley Dicus said the stabbing was so violent the knife blade was bent.
What Is The Verdict?
On July 23, 2010, a few hours after closing arguments, the jury returned a verdict: guilty as charged for murder in the second degree. Rachel apologized to Sarah’s parents, saying she never wanted a physical altercation with their daughter. But it wasn’t enough, Sarah’s mother made an impassioned plea for Rachel to receive the maximum sentence. Rachel didn’t get a life sentence, but she did get 27 years in prison, and in 2012, her request for appeal was denied. She’ll get out of prison in 2035, at 45 years old.