An 11-year-old girl committed suicide in her school bathroom just days after her detective father died of cancer and a week after her mother reported that she was being bullied to school officials.
Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez, a sixth-grade student at F.W. Holbein School in Mount Holly, was discovered unresponsive inside a bathroom stall by another student around 1 p.m. on Feb. 6.
The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office told 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.
No foul play was involved in her death, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Felicia’s death came shortly after her dad, NJ Transit Detective Alexis Melendez, died of pancreatic cancer on Jan. 25 and about a week after she emailed school officials that she and her friends were being bullied, according to her mother.
“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, April 1.
“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.
A month before her death, Felicia proposed to school officials in an email that they launch a “trauma club,” which students could use as a safe space to discuss stressors, LoAlbo said on Facebook.
She quoted her daughter’s email as saying: “I was watching TV and thinking about the things in my life that happened to me and I got a great idea. Instead of drama club, it would be a trauma club … I would help and provide as much as I can.
“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.
In a 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 suicidal voice message Felicia left in 2021.
“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.”
During a March 15 school board meeting, Seth Turner said his daughter was a close friend of Felicia. He described the deceased as one of the “brightest kids I have ever known” and added 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 calls for the release of surveillance videos near the bathroom where Felicia was found.