Crime

Girl wrote 8 notes before jumping from overpass onto I-5

Izabel Laxamana typed eight suicide notes on her iPod less than two hours before she leaped from a Tacoma overpass onto Interstate 5 below, Tacoma police said Monday.

At the end of the school day, the 13-year-old girl gave the device to a friend. No one saw the letters until she had jumped, police said. Her parents were reportedly unaware she owned an iPod.

There were notes to a close friend and six family members. The last was unaddressed, presumably for police.

“In the notes, she explains that she did some things that were embarrassing, and she did not want to take the family name down with her,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool told The News Tribune.

“In the letter to her dad, she was very clearly trying to explain to him that she loves him very much and he is not responsible for her actions.”

The News Tribune left messages for Izabel’s family Monday but could not reach them for comment.

The girl’s May 30 death caused an uproar online because of a 15-second video uploaded to YouTube. Izabel is the only one who can be seen in the video, which was shot in what appeared to be a garage. Her father’s voice can be heard.

“The consequences of getting messed up, man, you lost all that beautiful hair,” her father says. The camera then pans down to a pile of black hair on the ground.

“Was it worth it?” the father asks.

“No,” Izabel replies.

“How many times did I warn you?” he asks.

“A lot,” she replies in a near whisper.

After she died, a Facebook page called “Justice for Izabel” garnered 11,000 “likes,” and multiple people called for the father to be prosecuted, believing he posted the video to shame her.

Police said Monday that the girl’s father never posted the video online; she did.

National media ran with the story before much was known about the video.

Police said Izabel’s most recent family troubles seem to have begun May 3 when she sent a photo of herself in a sports bra and leggings to a boy at school. An employee at Giaudrone Middle School became aware of the photo and called Izabel’s parents to campus for a conference.

Her parents were unaware she was using social media and had told her not to. Police said her father had warned her that if she disobeyed, the consequence would be cutting her hair.

That same day, police said, Izabel’s father cut off half her hair to about shoulder-length. He left part of her hair untouched.

When she went to school the next day, police said, school officials helped her French braid her hair so she wouldn’t be embarrassed by the haircut.

Principal Billy Harris learned about the video and reported it to Child Protective Services. Izabel then was given counseling support at school, according to a statement from Tacoma Public Schools.

CPS has not responded to calls for comment from The News Tribune about how it handled the report or whether it took action.

Police gave this account of the events leading to Izabel’s death:

Two days after the hair-cutting incident, Izabel wrote the suicide notes on her iPod and handed the device to her friend when school let out. Then she apparently walked to the South 48th Street overpass rather than to her grandparents’ home, which was her normal routine.

Her grandparents, who were out running errands, saw Izabel on the overpass as they returned home. Her grandfather pulled over, and her grandmother went to speak with Izabel.

She grabbed the girl’s arm and Izabel jerked it away. Her grandmother fell and hit her head, temporarily blacking out.

The girl panicked, desperately asking her grandmother if she was OK. She helped her grandfather put her grandmother in the back seat so they could get medical help.

Izabel got in the front seat.

But as her grandfather put on his seat belt, Izabel jumped from the car and flung herself off the overpass. She landed on the roof of a car driving below and died the next day.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death a suicide.

Experts say there’s not one cause of suicide. A mix of “individual, relational, community and societal factors” contribute to the risk for it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Risk factors are those characteristics associated with suicide — they might not be direct causes,” the organization states on its website.

Police are wrapping up a death investigation. They do not expect to recommend any criminal charges, Cool said.

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