Last fall, she moved from Ireland into western Massachusetts, a new town, a new high school, a new country, a new culture. She was 15, when all that matters is being liked and wearing the right clothes and just fitting in.
She was a freshman and she had a brief fling with a senior, a football player, and for this she became the target of the Mean Girls, who decided then and there that Phoebe didn’t know her place and that Phoebe would pay.
Kids can be mean, but the Mean Girls took it to another level, according to students and parents. They followed Phoebe around, calling her a slut. When they wanted to be more specific, they called her an Irish slut.
The name-calling, the stalking, the intimidation was relentless.
Ten days ago, Phoebe was walking home from school when one of the Mean Girls drove by in a car. An insult and an energy drink can came flying out the car window in Phoebe’s direction.
Phoebe kept walking, past the abuse, past the can, past the white picket fence, into her house. Then she walked into a closet and hanged herself. Her 12-year-old sister found her.
You would think this would give the bullies who hounded Phoebe some pause. Instead, they went on Facebook and mocked her in death.
They told State Police detectives they did nothing wrong, had nothing to do with Phoebe killing herself.
And then they went right back to school and started badmouthing Phoebe.
They had a dance, a cotillion, at the Log Cabin in Holyoke two days after Phoebe’s sister found her in the closet, and some who were there say one of the Mean Girls bragged about how she played dumb with the detectives who questioned her.
Last week, one of the Springfield TV stations sent a crew to South Hadley High to talk to the kids.
One girl was interviewed on camera, and she said what was common knowledge: that bullies were stalking the corridors of South Hadley High.
As soon as the TV crew was out of sight, one of the Mean Girls came up and slammed the girl who had been interviewed against a locker and punched her in the head.
The Mean Girls are pretty, and popular, and play sports.
So far, they appear to be untouchable, too.