Text message dispute triggered brutal Florida teen beating

12:58 PM, Mar 19, 2010   |    comments
  • Josie Lou Ratley
  • Wayne Treacy
  • Kayla Manson
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UPDATE: Doctors "feeling good" about beaten girl

DEERFIELD BEACH, Florida -- A 13-year-old girl, charged in connection with the brutal beating of a Deerfield Beach Middle School student, was ordered held in juvenile detention for 21 days.

Attorney Jonathon Marne confirmed Friday that his client, 13-year old, Kayla Manson, was being held after Circuit Judge Michael Orlando determined there was probable cause to hold her on a charge of accessory to attempted first-degree murder. Her next court date is March 26, along with the other suspect, 15-year-old Wayne Treacy.

Manson was taken into custody on Thursday, one day after the attack that left 15-year-old Josie Ratley hospitalized in critical condition. Ratley's family has scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon at Broward General Medical Center where she is being treated.

Manson's mother, grandmother and aunt attended her hearing. They did not comment when it was over but Marne said Manson and Ratley were "best friends" and "The family wanted to wish Josie a very speedy recovery."

BSO detectives say Manson was charged because she helped Treacy find Ratley even though she was aware that he was planning to hurt her.

At a news conference Thursday, BSO detectives said Ratley's beating was triggered by a text message dispute between Ratley and Treacy.

They say it all started when Manson, who is Treacy's girlfriend, used Ratley's cell phone to text him. Manson had been using other people's phones to send him text messages because she didn't have one of her own, Sheriff Al Lamberti said.

Lamberti also said Ratley objected to the boy's relationship with Manson and said so during an exchange of text messages with him. Then Ratley texted Treacy something about his brother's suicide, which set him off.

"Those messages went back and forth and one of the messages was a comment regarding the suicide of his brother five months ago, that's apparently what set him off," Lamberti said. Treacy then sent text messages to other friends, saying he was going to kill Ratley and break her neck, authorities said.

Authorities said the boy then rode his bicycle to the middle school and got Manson to help him find Ratley. Police say Treacy almost beat up the wrong girl before Manson pointed her out. The girl "knew he was going to do this, did nothing to stop him, and in fact, directed him to Josie, the victim, and pointed her out," Lamberti said.

Treacy is accused of banging Ratley's head on the pavement repeatedly and stomping on her head with steel-toed boots, authorities said Thursday. A teacher pulled him off the girl, who was airlifted to a hospital.

Defense attorney Betsy Benson, who's representing Treacy, said the brother's suicide played a role in the incident. "I think that what we are going to find out is that the impact of this had a lot to do with this situation," Benson said. Treacy found his 30-year-old brother's body hanging from a tree outside a Pompano Beach church last October and his attorney says Treacy was traumatized.

Treacy, a ninth-grader at Deerfield Beach High School, appeared in court Thursday afternoon and was ordered held at a juvenile detention center for 21 days while prosecutors determine whether to charge him as an adult. He was arrested after the attack Wednesday on a charge of premeditated attempted murder. His next court date is March 26.

Students from the same middle school were also involved in an attack last year in which a teenage boy, Michael Brewer, was set on fire.

"It seems like with this youth violence happening, it seems like we have a culture of callousness going on with kids. We really have to get to the bottom of it." Lamberti said.

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