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Candlelight vigil for 12-year-old North Side Middle School student

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 11:32 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Calls are growing louder to investigate the death of a 12-year-old North Side Middle School student.

Family members said Rio Allred died by suicide earlier this week after they claim she was bullied at school.

On Wednesday, over 500 people attended a candlelight vigil in Elkhart to remember the girl.

“I am angry. Obviously I am sad. But this inner momma bear is ready,” said Rio’s mother Nicole Ball.

Ball claims her daughter was bullied multiple times.

“She had alopecia, which is an autoimmune disease that made her body attack her hair follicles and made her hair fall out...She started this school year with a wig, a beautiful wig. Within the first few weeks kids were ripping it off of her head. In front of the whole class...Would smack her upside the head in the hallway,” Ball said.

Ball said she addressed the bullying with a social worker and counselor.

“And I asked them specifically ‘please get in touch with the parents’. I don’t know if that happened. There was no follow up and three weeks later here we are,” Ball said.

Ball said she believes the school failed Rio.

“They failed her. They failed us. They continue to fail other students because Rio is not the only one. I know that,” she said.

In a statement, Elkhart Community Schools’ Superintendent, Dr. Steve Thalheimer, said in part: “Due to an ongoing police investigation, Elkhart Community Schools is not able to comment specifically about the circumstances or death of Rio Allred. In addition to the police investigation, we are currently completing an internal review and cooperating with law enforcement as they complete their investigation.”

“Her death is not going to be in vain. Change is going to come from this,” said Ball.

People said Rio was a good friend, a talented writer and had an infectious laugh.

“She was the light to everybody who ever met her. She was funny. She was sarcastic and very witty,” Ball said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses.

If you would like to help, click here.

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