Police in Tuscaloosa, Ala. has shuttered their investigation into a 9-year-old girl’s suicide after authorities were unable to confirm her family’s claims that racist bullying drove her to take her life.
Last week, Linden Police Department chief Robert Alston said he spoke with several teachers and faculty at U.S. Jones Elementary School but found no evidence that McKenzie Adams had been bullied at school. Adams, who relatives described as a fun-loving little girl who enjoyed math and spending time with her cousins, was found hanged in her home on Dec. 3.
“The only thing that’s concrete is that she committed suicide,” Alston told reporters, noting the case had reached an end. “At this standpoint, the school is denying any report was made to them of bullying, and so fare, we haven’t been able to prove that there was any report made to them.”
Eddwina Harris, Adams’ aunt, told the Tuscaloosa News in December that much of the bullying her niece suffered stemmed from her friendship with a white classmate.
“She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘Black b—h, just die,” Harris explained.
The grieving aunt said her niece had experienced bullying at previous school and switched to U.S. Jones after Adams’ mother and grandmother complained to the State Board of Education.
The Tuscaloosa News reports that Demopolis City Schools launched an investigation into the bullying claims after the little girl’s death. Weeks later, the school district issued a statement saying they were also unable to find evidence that Adams was a victim of bullying.
“We have concluded our internal investigation into the allegations of bullying, which led to this senseless death,” the statement read. “There have been no findings of any reports of bullying by either the student or family. The finding of the internal investigation are consistent with the results of the investigation of the Linden Police Department at this point in time.”
During their investigation, police said they interviewed nine faculty members at the school, along with teachers, coaches and Principal Tori Infinger. The department also spoke with several students, both inside of McKenzie’s class, but couldn’t find anyone who witnessed her being bullied or harassed.
“We didn’t get any report from any [school staff] saying that a report was made to them,” Albert said.
He added: “I’m not saying [the family] is making false allegations. They may have made reports to school; we just don’t have anything in writing.”
Since her niece’s death, Harris has launched The McKenzie Foundation, a group pushing for better laws and policies against bullying, the newspaper reported. So far, the group has raised over $11,000 via a GoFundMe campaign.
“God has blessed me to help others with my platform, and now it’s time to help,” said Harris, an Atlanta TV personality. “God is opening great doors for justice for my niece.”