Investigators of 12-year-old's suicide await test results from electronics

loberle@beaufortgazette.comJune 6, 2014 

A photograph of Celeste Wills hangs on the wall at the Robert Smalls Middle School gymnasium during her vigil on May 1, 2014.

THEOPHIL SYSLO — Staff photo

Investigators continue their examination of the death of 12-year-old Celeste Wills, a Robert Smalls Middle School student who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound April 30, according to Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner.

The Sheriff's Office awaits results of forensic analysis of electronic devices collected from Wills' home, Tanner said this week, adding he is unsure when the investigation will end.

Wills died April 30, and some of her friends and relatives said she was bullied.

The Beaufort County School District continues to assist the Sheriff's Office in the investigation, district spokesman Jim Foster said, and will not know what role, if any, bullying played in Wills' suicide until the investigation ends.

The Wills family is asking for privacy, Clarissa Wills, Celeste's mother, said in a text message Wednesday. Regina Shockey, a friend acting as the family's spokeswoman, said they are frustrated with the investigation so far.

"Everything has been very tight-lipped," Shockey said. "The school doesn't want to accept there is and was the presence of bullying."

Clarissa Wills and her husband, Dale, started a petition on change.org in mid-May. They have said that they will present it to the district when 500 signatures are collected, a mark reached May 20. The petition had 667 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

The petition has not been presented yet because more information for each person who signed is needed to validate their signatures. It will be presented at a Beaufort County Legislative Delegation meeting, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 16, state Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, said in a Facebook post.

In addition, Erickson announced on Facebook her plan to launch the Anti-Bullying Task Force by the end of June to examine state anti-bullying laws and how they are implemented in schools.

Shockey said that while disappointed in the school district's response, the Wills family has been overwhelmed by community support. She said over 250 people attended a rally May 31 to benefit the Wills family and raise bullying awareness.

"We have so many locals pulling together to make sure our children's voices are heard," Shockey said.

Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.

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