Another teen suicide blamed on internet blackmail

Updated: Apr. 12, 2021 at 6:40 PM EDT
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LISBON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Did it happen again? Sadly, it appears so. We’re learning a Lisbon teen, Shylynn Dixon, took her own life in the beginning of March, leaving behind a note saying she was tricked by a blackmailer online. Her family got the courage to speak after Riley Basford’s parents went public with a similar story last week.

Shylynn Dixon was a farm girl. She was raised on farms and helped guardian Rosemarie Maneri clear a pasture and paint a barn.

“She was full of life. Loved being with the animals. Loved being with her friends. Loved being on a farm,” said Maneri.

The Heuvelton high junior did sports, hung out with friends and even liked to hang out in trees. She made the honor role at BOCES in criminal justice and knew how to work hard.

That’s why it was such a shock when Shylynn took her own life on March 3 – the victim of an internet blackmailer on Facebook.

In a note she left, she said the blackmailer tricked her into sending embarrassing photos, then threatened to send them to classmates and friends.

“There’s still things that the kids don’t understand and that they just can’t even fathom,” said Maneri.

The plot that took her life was eerily similar to the one that robbed 15-year-old Riley Basford of his a month later, just 20 miles away. His parents went public with it.

It now gives Maneri the courage – and reason - to do the same.

“I’m hoping that between Riley’s parents and us and our families and friends sharing things that we really can get the word out,” said Maneri.

Maneri wants more explained to kids in schools and hopes state police can bring perpetrators to justice.

What’s alarming people is how common this is. Riley Basford’s parents say they have heard of more than dozen other teens in the area who were targeted by the same predator that drove their son to take his life.

In Shylynn’s case, at least two friends eventually heard from her internet stalker. State police confirmed Monday they continue to investigate both Shylynn’s and Riley’s cases.

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