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Wednesday 12 June, 2024
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Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez found dead by suicide

BY Anas Shah Apr 03, 2023. 07:39 pm UPDATED: Apr 03, 2023. 07:39 pm

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Police say an 11-year-old New Jersey girl committed suicide in her school restroom, just days after her detective father died of cancer — and a week after her mother told school authorities she was being bullied. The sixth-grade student, Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez, was discovered unresponsive inside a restroom cubicle by another student around 1 p.m. Feb. 6 at F.W. Holbein School in Mount Holly, according to the Daily Voice. The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office informed New Jersey 101.5 that “help was immediately sought from staff members, and lifesaving measures were taken by school officials, police, and emergency medical technicians.”

“The student was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and then transferred to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was pronounced dead on Feb. 8,” it added.

An autopsy performed by the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the sixth-grader died from suicide.

“An investigation into the student’s death by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, which included a review of the school’s surveillance cameras, determined that she was alone in the restroom when this tragic action occurred,” the office told NJ.com.

According to the prosecutor’s office, there was no foul play in her demise. Felicia died soon after her father, NJ Transit Detective Alexis Melendez, died of pancreatic cancer on Jan. 25, and about a week after she emailed school authorities about bullying her and her classmates, according to her mother.

Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez

“She herself had written numerous emails to the administration detailing the events, yet no one was ever questioned,” her mom, Elaina LoAlbo, told NJ.com on Saturday.

“They have swept under the rug the bullying that she and so many other kids in that school have encountered and now they’re doing the same with this investigation,” the grieving mom told the outlet.

Felicia suggested to school authorities in an email a month before her death that they start a “trauma club,” which students could use as a secure place to address stressors, LoAlbo said on Facebook. “I was watching TV and thinking about the things in my life that happened to me, and I got a great idea,” she said, quoting her daughter’s email. It would be a trauma group instead of a theatre company… I would assist and provide whatever assistance I could.

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“It would need a room that is not too big and not too small. We would need a couple of chairs too. But I hope this does happen. I for one have heard from my friends and others about things that have happened to them and I think this would be a fantastic thing. Have a great night. Go dragons,” Felicia reportedly wrote.

Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez In the Feb. 24 tribute to her daughter, LoAlbo said: “Felicia was a bright light who touched so many people — she was an old soul, wise beyond her short 11 years.

“Unfortunately, Felicia’s happy-go-lucky attitude was not enough to battle the relentless bullying she was fighting within the walls of our school,” she said.

“Felicia’s last email in the week before her passing expressed to her school that her and her friends were being bullied, that laws were present to protect them, and that they were breaking the law by not taking action,” she added.

LoAlbo also shared a chilling voice message Felicia left in 2021.

Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez

“Unless you’re me, well you’re listening to this from the future,” Felicia is heard saying. “Say hello to future Mom, future Dad … future everyone. Never, never, never be bad, never give up on your friends, never, ever … be a bully.”

On Feb. 8. Schools Superintendent Robert Mungo wrote a letter confirming a student’s death — without mentioning the name and suicide attempt inside the building.

“Dear Mount Holly School Community: Today, we learned of the passing of one of our students. This tragic news impacts the entire school community,” the letter says, according to NJ 101.5.

“Our priority is to provide support and direction during this extremely difficult time. We will continue to work as an administrative team alongside our Board and staff to respond to our school community’s needs,” he added.

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Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez

During a March 15 school board meeting, Seth Turner said his daughter was a close friend of Felicia — one of the “brightest kids I have ever known” — and that before her death, “my daughter confided in me that Felicia was being bullied by other members of her class.

“I failed to convey this information to any teachers or staff in time for anything to be done, and I need to apologize for this,” he said, according to NJ 101.5.

“While no response to the death of an 11-year-old girl can ever be truly adequate, our response to this tragedy so far has been pathetic,” Turner continued.

“Felicia deserves better. She deserves a full investigation, she deserves a full accounting and she deserves truth — and I hope that we can give it to her,” he added.

A Change.org petition requests the release of security footage from the restroom where Felicia was discovered.

Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez

“The school administration didn’t listen the first 50 times. Maybe they are ready to hear us now. This bullying needs to stop. There need to be consequences for their actions,” Elaina said.

“This tragic end makes no sense and could have been prevented,” she added. “It is now my life’s mission to make sure her legacy lives on and these tragic stories are given a voice. No parent should have to get that call.”

The school board has declined to speak while the investigation is underway, according to NJ.com. Mungo also did not reply to a request for feedback from NJ 101.5. Felicia’s father was remembered in a funeral ceremony two days before she was discovered. Melendez’s “outstanding police work shone, and he was later assigned to a plain clothes capacity,” NJ Transit police said in an emotional homage on Twitter.

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“As a plain clothes officer, Melendez helped to protect your travels as he blended amongst the traveling public. The countless actions he took, always served to ensure your safety,” police wrote, adding that the detective also had been assigned to the DEA Task Force.

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