Aubreigh Wyatt’s Death in South Mississippi: The Full Story
11 mins read

Aubreigh Wyatt’s Death in South Mississippi: The Full Story

Heather Wyatt (center) and her children, Taylor, then 15, (left) and Ryker, then 6, at the Wyatts’ home in Ocean Springs on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Heather and her children are coping with the death of their middle child, 13-year-old Aubreigh, who committed suicide on Sept. 4, 2023.

Sun Herald

The death of 13-year-old Aubreigh Wyatt nearly 10 months ago in her Ocean Springs home has sparked an outcry in the local community and on social media.

Aubreigh’s mother, Heather Wyatt, wants justice for her daughter, a sentiment shared by many. She says Aubreigh was bullied to death, attacked at school by her abusers and on platforms like Snapchat.

Her story has stirred up extreme emotions in people who have been bullied or have seen their children suffer at the hands of bullies.

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Below is a summary of the events that occurred following Aubreigh’s death and their effects that continue to this day, along with links to news materials.

Childhood photo of Aubreigh Wyatt at Heather Wyatt’s home in Ocean Springs on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Hannah Ruhoff Sun Herald

Aubreigh Wyatt mourned

After Aubreigh died on Sept. 4, 2023, students wore suicide awareness ribbons and colors at an Ocean Springs Greyhounds football game. Her mother, older sister and younger brother walked onto the field and joined the crowd for a moment of silence.

A bouquet of flowers and stuffed animals surrounded a sign outside Ocean Springs Middle School, where Aubreigh had just started eighth grade. Students gathered for a protest on campus, carrying signs and calling for an end to bullying.

One such student was Vanessa Owens. Aubreigh’s death brought back painful memories of being bullied in the same school system. Owens, now a young adult, bravely shared her story with the Sun Herald to encourage other children in distress and let them know that life does get better.

Aubreigh’s memorial service was held at the East Campus of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Ocean Springs, where the star student was a devoted church member and found solace in her faith.

From the beginning, Heather Wyatt wanted justice for her daughter. The Ocean Springs elementary school teacher and single mother began talking about the bullying on social media and sought legal advice from Gulfport attorney Trevor Rockstadt. In late September, he told the Sun Herald that his law firm was investigating the bullying.

Rockstadt said, and Wyatt later confirmed, that Aubreigh had been bullied since fifth grade. Heather Wyatt told her lawyer that she had tried everything she could to stop the bullying, but nothing worked.

Wyatt also took to social media to criticize the group Stand for the Silent Inc., which was raising money on Aubreigh’s behalf — much to Heather Wyatt’s surprise and without her consent.

Vanessa Owens pays tribute at the memorial for the 13-year-old outside Ocean Springs Middle School on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. The child, Aubreigh Wyatt, died unexpectedly after being bullied, and her death remains under investigation. Hannah Ruhoff Sun Herald

Heather Wyatt’s TikTok Follower Count Is Growing

Heather Wyatt began posting primarily on TikTok, where her following has steadily grown. In February, she posted a video saying the Ocean Springs Police Department and Jackson County Juvenile Court had decided not to pursue child abuse charges in Aubreigh’s death.

Wyatt was upset and said she could start sharing evidence against Aubreigh’s abusers now that the investigations were over. She said the abusers were four girls and one boy.

“Aubreigh was friends with them for a week, and then they were fighting for a week,” Wyatt said in the video. “It was just a lot of social isolation… Aubreigh was too understanding.”

In the video, Wyatt also showed a screenshot her daughter Taylor received after Aubreigh’s death. Wyatt said the bullies were circulating the screenshot. It showed a bloody doll with a noose around its neck.

She also shared a photo of Aubreigh with a red cheek when she was in seventh grade. Aubreigh, who sent the photo to her mom, said one of the bullies hit her at school, Wyatt told his TikTok audience.

Wyatt then shared screenshots of the Snapchat conversation, in which one person apologized to Aubreigh for hitting her — “I really didn’t mean to hurt you, I’m sorry” — and Aubreigh apologized for getting the girl in trouble.

The girl’s parents later denied that she hit Aubreigh.

This is a screenshot of a conversation that Heather Wyatt says took place on Snapchat between her daughter Aubreigh and one of the girls who was bullying her after the girl allegedly hit Aubreigh. Wyatt included the screenshot in a video about the bullying that she says led to her 13-year-old daughter’s suicide. TIK Tok

Bullying Awareness Campaign

In March, Wyatt resigned from her teaching job and was ready to talk about her mission to raise awareness about bullying and mental health. She spoke to the Sun Herald about Aubreigh’s death, her grief and a beach gathering to celebrate Aubreigh’s 14th birthday on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

Also in March, Rockstadt’s attorney filed a lawsuit against the social media companies over Aubreigh’s death. The lawsuit claims that Aubreigh was addicted to social media, where she constantly received notifications and constantly checked her accounts. Her mother said she was cyberbullied on those accounts.

In April, a controversy erupted at Ocean Springs Middle School that spilled into the public eye. Eight students walked out and protested outside the school after one of them said she was suspended for defending Aubreigh on Facebook. The student essentially said that those who bullied Aubreigh would one day “get a taste of their own medicine.”

Wyatt, who was notified of the protest, recorded it live on Facebook. She told the Sun Herald that students felt the suspended girl was being treated unfairly because the bullies were not punished.

Several students at the protest said they were also bullied, including one who attempted suicide in sixth grade. School principal Mike Lindsey said there are procedures in place to deal with bullying and the school system is unable to share information about specific students who have been disciplined. Lindsey also said the school system has plans for anti-bullying education for the upcoming school year.

Heather Wyatt works at a pizza and T-shirt stand during the opening ceremony of the Ocean Springs Girls Softball League at the Ocean Springs Sports Complex on March 4. During the ceremony, Wyatt gave a speech to the young girls in honor of her daughter Aubreigh about suicide prevention and bullying. Hannah Ruhoff Sun Herald

Lawsuits filed against Wyatt

The anger and confusion over Aubreigh’s death reached new heights after Wyatt posted a video of herself discovering notes she claimed Aubreigh left behind after her death. The Wyatts searched Aubreigh’s room for the note shortly after her death but found nothing.

But Wyatt recently filmed herself packing up Aubreigh’s room for a move. In the TikTok video, she wailed as she found notes from “Aubs,” one of her daughter’s pet names, to every family member and one note addressed to everyone.

The short but powerful video was viewed almost 40 million times, and Wyatt’s following grew to almost one million when Chancery Court Judge Mark Maples ordered her to close her social media accounts.

Maples said he was trying to protect the minors accused of harassing Aubreigh. Their parents filed a lawsuit against Wyatt in Chancery Court in April, seeking an injunction against her. An injunction essentially demands that someone, in this case Wyatt, be ordered to do something or stop doing something.

The original judge in the case, Ashlee Cole, approved the case the same day it was filed, so details of the parents’ motion are not known.

However, someone leaked an emergency order issued by Maples on social media that shut down Wyatt’s social media. A hearing will be held July 18 to decide whether the order should remain in place, but it’s unclear whether the proceedings will be open to the public.

It’s clear that Maples’ order only stirred up more hostility on social media toward the accused bullies. Threats flew.

The day after Maples issued the order, the parents of the four girls filed a second lawsuit in District Court. The lawsuit accused Heather Wyatt of defaming the girls with harassment allegations.

The District Court lawsuit is public, but the Sun Herald is not naming the parents to protect the identities of the minor girls. However, their names, photos and other personal information have been circulated on social media platforms. Wyatt did not personally name the children.

Wyatt is raising money for legal fees via a gofundme account, where she had raised more than $87,000 as of Tuesday afternoon. Wyatt wrote in an update to the account Monday:

“We love you all so much! And I know my little girl would be thrilled to see how many people love her! How many people are fighting for her! I am honored to share my little girl with so many wonderful people! Aubreigh’s Army (or mob as some call it) has been such a light in these dark times! We love you all!!”

Heather Wyatt holds a photo of her daughter Aubreigh on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Aubreigh committed suicide on Labor Day at her home in Ocean Springs. Her brother Ryker, left, still brings toys and things she would have liked to Aubreigh’s room, which has been untouched since her death. Hannah Ruhoff Sun Herald

Aubreigh Wyatt’s Death in South Mississippi: The Full Story

A native of Mississippi, Anita Lee earned a journalism degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and previously worked at the Jackson Daily News and the Virginian-Pilot, joining the Sun Herald in 1987. She specializes in in-depth reporting on government, public corruption, transparency and the courts. She has won state, regional and national journalism awards, most notably her coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2006.
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