Kathleen Edward, Child Made Famous By Neighbor Who Mocked Her Terminal Illness, Dies

Trenton, MI- Out of all the strange, wacky and depraved stories that the internet has made viral, certain standouts are the type of tale that you remember every so often down the road due to their sheer implausibility and impact.

One such story is the bizarre and unspeakably cruel bullying of a terminally ill child in Trenton, Michigan by an adult neighbor following a family dispute. It’s difficult to imagine a more vulnerable victim than a child with a life-threatening illness, but as details unraveled about the harassment of Kathleen Edward, the situation was revealed to be even worse. And sadly, Edward succumbed last night to Huntington’s Disease at the age of nine.

Edward’s neighbor Jennifer Petkov emerged as an uber-villain in the scenario, and it emerged that the woman- who was 33 at the time of the bullying- had posted images of the dying girl with a skull and crossbones to Facebook to anger her neighbors. Petkov had also taunted the family over the death of Edward’s mother, who also succumbed to Huntington’s at the age of 24. But what did Edward’s family do to so anger Petkov? Apparently they’d hosted a party with a bounce house in the front yard, and when Petkov texted to ask if her children could attend, Edward’s family did not reply quickly enough. (In the clip below, Petkov brags to a news anchor about the harassment and says she did it for “personal satisfaction.”)

Eventually, social services intervened due to Petkov’s harassment, and children living in the home were removed to the custody of their father. Family friend Michelle Yerigan confirmed Kathleen’s passing last night to CBS, and said that the girl would be reunited in heaven with the mother she lost at the age of six. Yerigan said that the story had gained traction worldwide:

“This little girl touched a lot of people’s lives and not just in Michigan, but across the world. She has friends from Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan, people all over the world have reached out to this little girl and the world is now a sadder place without her in it. But, I think she taught us a very strong lesson in that faith, hope and love can just do amazing things.”

Edward’s family is planning funeral services for the little girl.