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Posted: March 17, 2017

Couple charged with cyberbullying teen until she killed herself

Karinthya Romero, left, and Andres Villagomez are accused of stalking and harassing Villagomez' ex-girlfriend, who killed herself in November 2016.
Texas City Police Department via AP
Karinthya Romero, left, and Andres Villagomez are accused of stalking and harassing Villagomez' ex-girlfriend, who killed herself in November 2016.

By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

TEXAS CITY, Texas —

A Texas man and his girlfriend are accused of cyberbullying the man’s ex-girlfriend and prompting her suicide last year. 

CBS News reported that Brandy Vela, 18, shot herself in the chest Nov. 29 in front of her family at their Texas City home. Police there allege that the actions of Andres Arturo Villagomez, 21, and Karinthya Sanchez Romero, 22, both of Galveston, led to Vela’s suicide. 

The Texas City Police Department said Thursday that Vela killed herself after “enduring several months of relentless cyberbullying, stalking and harassment.” In a news release, the department said that detectives worked for months to identify the people behind the alleged harassment, which continued online even after Vela died. 

A Galveston grand jury heard the case Thursday and recommended charges against both Villagomez and Romero, police said. Villagomez, who is charged with unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material, was being held in lieu of $2,500 bond.

Romero is charged with stalking and online impersonation. The bond amount for each charge was set at $10,000. 

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Romero is accused of setting up a fake Facebook account in Vela’s name and using it to post embarrassing content and to harass and intimidate the teen, who was a Texas City High School senior. Romero is also accused of making threatening and harassing phone calls to the girl, CBS News reported

Villagomez is accused of providing Romero with the embarrassing content -- private photos of Vela in sexually graphic poses, which he obtained while they were dating. 

KHOU-TV reported that Vela’s father, Raul Vela, demanded justice for his daughter the day after her suicide. He said that the campaign of harassment went on for more than a year before Brandy Vela died. 

“Sometimes, she wouldn’t sleep,” Raul Vela said of his daughter. “She’d call me at night. She’d say, ‘Dad, I can’t sleep. My phone keeps ringing.’”

She would change her phone number, but those harassing her would find her anyway, he said.

He said his daughter’s tormentors constantly posted “nasty” things about her and made it appear that she was soliciting sex. The fake pages would be taken down, only to reappear, he said.

Brandy Vela sent out an email Nov. 29 telling her family that she was going to kill herself, KHOU-TV reported. They rushed home to find her alive, but with a gun. 

“We tried to persuade her to put the gun down, but she was determined,” a tearful Raul Vela told the station. “She said she’d come too far to turn back.”

“I want to see these people get locked up,” Raul Vela told the station. “I hope they get what they deserve, because I didn’t deserve this.”

Brandy Vela also sent out a final text message to her family, CBS News said

“I love you so much. Just remember that please, and I’m so sorry for everything,” she wrote. 


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