Vigil sheds light on bullying
Suicide of Cashmere student is closed case for Sheriff’s office
Sunday, February 5, 2012
WENATCHEE — Friends and family of a 14-year-old Cashmere boy who hanged himself Jan. 29 said during a candlelight vigil Friday night that he had been bullied because he was gay.
“He told me he got shoved and punched in the face in PE in the locker room at Cashmere,” said Lexii Mullin of Wenatchee, a friend of Rafael Morelos.
“He was tired of people saying that his little brothers would follow in his footsteps and be gay too,” said Maranda Blankenship of Wenatchee.
The girls met Rafael when he was a student at Pioneer Middle School in Wenatchee last spring and this September. They said they had remained his friends after his family moved to Cashmere this fall and he enrolled in Cashmere Middle School.
Lexi said someone created a fake Facebook page so he or she could talk to Rafael rudely.
Rob Cline, principal at Cashmere Middle School, said by phone on Friday that there was no ongoing investigation into Rafael being bullied at the school. He said that Rafael had, earlier in the school year, reported one incidence of being bullied but “we took care of that. We investigated and took appropriate action.”
Cline declined to say what action the district took, or when during the school year Rafael complained to the school about being bullied.
“Student discipline is not something I am at liberty to share,” Cline said.
The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and determined that it was a suicide and there was no foul play involved.
“You’re the first one who ever indicated to me that he had been bullied,” said Sheriff Brian Burnett in a phone interview Saturday.
Lt. Maria Agnew said earlier this week that bullying “did not come up in the investigation and there is no evidence that would support that right now.”
She said the investigation is closed. Burnett said it would only be opened if the school or family presented evidence of bullying.
Rafael’s mother, Malinda Morelos, said during an interview Thursday afternoon that she did not hear that her son was bullied until a candlelight vigil Tuesday near their home on Eels Road in Cashmere.
“Almost all the kids here told me he was being bullied,” she said. “There were at least 100 people at the vigil.”
She said her son kept his feelings to himself and “he pretended everything was OK.” She said she has known her son was gay for several years.
She said Rafael left a short note before he died that said, ‘Sawwy, guys, but I love you guys.”
At the vigil, Malinda said her son, “sometimes acted strong but, inside, he was dying little by little.”
Janis Hayden, the mother of a Cashmere student, said an account has been set up at Cashmere Valley Bank so people can donate to help the family defray costs associated with Rafael’s death.
Dee Riggs: 664-7147
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