Brandy Vela, 18, died of a single gunshot wound in her Texas City, Texas, home in November of 2016. According to reports, the teen committed suicide after months of cyberbullying. On Thursday, Andres Arturo Villagomez, 21, and his girlfriend Karinthya Sanchez Romero, 22, were indicted on charges of harassing and stalking the teen in the months leading up to her death.
On November 29, 2016, Brandy Vela sent her parents and siblings e-mail and text messages stating that she planned to commit suicide. Her sister Jacqueline and father Raul immediately rushed home. Although they expected the worst, they hoped to prevent the teen from taking her own life.
— USA News (@1USNews) March 16, 2017
As reported by CBS News, Jacqueline heard her sister crying as soon as she entered the house. She immediately ran upstairs to find the distraught teen leaning against her bedroom wall with a gun in her hand.
Raul said he and Jacqueline “tried to persuade her to put the gun down.” However, Brandy “said she’d come too far to turn back.”
In an interview with People, Jacqueline said she begged her sister to reconsider her decision. Unfortunately, it was simply too late. Raul said his daughter asked him to turn around before pointing the gun at her chest and pulling the trigger.
In her final text message to her family, Brandy said, “I love you so much just remember that please, and I am so sorry for everything.”
Raul and Jacqueline believe Brandy Vela’s suicide was the result of months of harassment and cyberbullying — which was initiated by her former boyfriend, Andres Villagomez, and his new girlfriend Karinthya Romero.
Jacqueline said her sister was always a target for bullies. However, the situation began to escalate in April of 2016 — when she was targeted by Andres and Karinthya.
— Bellingham Buzz (@bellinghambuzz) December 16, 2016
According to reports, Andres obtained sexually explicit photos of Brandy Vila while they were dating. However, when the relationship ended, he shared the photos with his new girlfriend.
Between April and November of 2016, Andres Villagomez and Karinthya Romero reportedly used the explicit photos to embarrass and harass Brandy Vela on numerous occasions. Authorities confirmed the couple is specifically accused of creating fake social media accounts in Brandy’s name, posting the graphic photos, and urging viewers to contact the teen for “free” sex.
Raul and Jacqueline said the social media accounts were also used to tease Brandy about her appearance and her weight.
According to Raul, the harassment was reported to local authorities and school officials. Unfortunately, the perpetrators created the social media accounts and sent vulgar text messages via an app — which cloaked their identities.
Although it took nearly four months, authorities have identified Andres Villagomez and Karinthya Romero as the suspects behind the brutal cyberbullying.
Chron reported Andres Villagomez was indicted on a Class A misdemeanor charge of unlawful disclosure of intimate visual material. He is currently being held at the Galveston County Jail on $2,500 bond. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison.
Karinthya Romero was indicted on third-degree felony charges of online impersonation and stalking. She is currently being held at the Galveston County Jail on $20,000 bond. If convicted, she could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison.
At this time, it is unknown whether anyone else will face criminal charges related to Brandy Vela’s suicide. However, Texas City Police Captain Joe Stanton confirmed the investigation is still in progress.
Brandy’s father and sister said they are thankful that Andres Villagomez and Karinthya Romero were arrested in connection with the teen’s death. However, they have vowed to continue raising awareness about cyberbullying and suicide in general. The family organized an anti-bullying and suicide awareness event in Brandy Vela’s name — which will take place at La Marque High School on Saturday, March 18.
[Featured Image by Texas City Police Department via AP]