Hailey’s parents ordered to keep distance
By Jane Beathard
The parents of a London girl who died last weekend as a result of suicide were ordered to stay 250 feet from the home of a neighbor, following a series of incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Madison County Common Pleas Judge Robert D. Nichols granted the neighbor a temporary civil protection order against Melinda Groce and David Petee of 44 N. Walnut St. A hearing for a permanent order is set for Feb. 11.
The Madison Press agreed to not publish the neighbor’s name.
Groce and Petee were the parents of 11-year-old Hailey Petee, who was found dead in her bedroom early Sunday. County coroner James Kaehr, M.D., ruled the death a suicide.
Groce and Petee attributed their daughter’s suicide to bullying by her peers.
The neighbor told Nichols on Wednesday that Groce and Petee threatened her via Facebook emails in retribution for information she provided WBNS-10TV about Groce’s background.
According to court documents, the neighbor emailed reporter Ashleigh Barry, saying her broadcasts about the suicide were one-sided and put London schools and the community in a bad light. She urged Barry to investigate the child’s family and home life.
Groce served three years in prison (2008-10) for possessing drugs and tampering with evidence in Union County, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction.
Barry and her supervisor forwarded the email to Groce, sparking three profanity-laced messages to the neighbor.
One threatened “no mercy” to the neighbor and her family. Another said Groce had visited the neighbor’s house and knocked on the door.
“You better move is all I have to say…I found you,” Groce emailed.
The neighbor said WBNS violated her trust by forwarding the email to Groce.
“I mistakenly assumed that information given to the station was confidential and that news stations protect the source,” she said.
In addition to maintaining the 250-foot distance, Nichols’ order forbids Groce and Petee and their associates from contacting the neighbor via social networks or any electronic media.
Hailey Petee’s funeral is set for 11 a.m. Thursday.
In the meantime, Dr. Kaehr is preparing a detailed report of circumstances surrounding the 11-year-old’s death. The London Police Department will also issue a report in coming days of its investigation into the incident, chief Dave Wiseman said.