Pierce County mom says her 12-year-old was vilified for friend’s death

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — The investigation continues into the tragic death of a Pierce County 11-year-old girl. What killed Lenyia Swansey-Faafiti has yet to be determined.

Since she was pronounced dead Friday, anti-bullying protests have consumed the Franklin Pierce School District. In the following days, a vicious rumor has also spiraled throughout the community that one of her classmates is responsible.

KIRO 7′s Lauren Donovan spoke to Petra Smith, who says her daughter, Serihia, has been vilified for the death of her beloved friend.

“They are sending death threats and telling my kids that when they catch them they’re going to hurt them,” said Smith. “I’ve had to pull seven kids out of the district school.”

12-year-old Serihia says it all started when a video began circulating on social media of her and Lenyia “playfighting” inside the Ford Middle School Library.

“People are saying we jumped her and it wasn’t like that,” said Serihia. “I loved her, we were friends, and whatever happened to her, it wasn’t because of me.”

According to Serihia, the incident in the library happened Monday. Lenyia was pronounced dead Friday at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

“Parents feel like it’s a cover up and it’s a conspiracy,” said Smith. “The kids are going with their parents.”

The Pierce County Medical Examiner announced Wednesday, “No evidence of significant physical injury was found during examination. There is also no indication from investigation of circumstances surrounding the death to indicate she died from injury sustained in an altercation or assault.”

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