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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 September, 2004, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
'Suicide pact' theory in girl's death
Police van at the scene
Police have been examining the house
A 13-year-old girl has died from a suspected drugs overdose after apparently making a suicide pact with her best friend.

Laura Rhodes, 13, from Neath, south Wales, died at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, on Saturday. Police said her death was not being treated as suspicious.

Her friend, Rebecca Ling, 14, from Longbridge, Birmingham, has been treated at the same hospital and is stable.

A nationwide hunt was launched after the girls went missing last week, but they were found in Bath on Friday.

The note said they were going to kill themselves
Neil Fisher

It is has emerged that the girls left a note saying they did not want to be parted again.

Rebecca had been spending the night at Laura's home in Heol Derwen, before returning home to Longbridge, Birmingham, on Saturday.

But, around 0400 BST, the girls were found seriously ill in Laura's bedroom.

They were taken by ambulance to Morriston Hospital, Swansea, in what police are calling "a dreadfully tragic event".

The coroner has been informed and a post-mortem examination will be carried out.

Neil Fisher, the partner of Rebecca's mother, said the girls had left a note in Laura's room.

"The note said they were going to kill themselves," he said.

"Laura's mother found them in the bedroom with tablets at the side of them. We are just stunned because we thought Rebecca would be coming home today safe and well. I just don't know why they would want to do this."

Laura Rhodes (left) and Rebecca Ling (right)
The girls met over the internet

Mr Fisher said Laura had visited in the past and was a friendly, out-going girl.

"She was like a daughter to us," he said. "I broke down in tears when I found out Laura went, but there's nothing we can do. I just feel sorry for her parents.

"Our heart goes out to her family. We are thinking of them."

Laura and Rebecca met on the internet last year and started e-mailing and text messaging each other every day.

They spent weekends at each other's homes and neighbours said they quickly became firm friends.

They returned from a two-week holiday to Crete with Laura's parents Michael and Yvonne Rhodes on Tuesday.

The two girls spent the night at the Rhodes' family home in Neath and Rebecca was expected to travel home to Birmingham by train the next day for the start of the school term.

Mrs Rhodes dropped the girls at Neath station on Wednesday afternoon for Laura to wave her friend off.

Photographs

But the girls boarded a train together and were not seen again for two days.

Police believed they may have run off together because they were going to be separated. They were found in Bath after their photographs were distributed.

The girls were collected by Laura's parents and taken back to their home.

Rebecca's shop assistant mother Alison Ling, 33, was planning to drive down from Birmingham to collect her daughter.

Mrs Ling and Rebecca's father David have been keeping a vigil at their daughter's bedside.

Friends of Laura's family said they were shocked at the tragedy.

Next-door neighbour Marian Pritchard said: "I just can't believe it - a week ago they were on holiday in Crete and now this.

"They came home on Tuesday and the girls went missing the next day. There was huge relief when they were found and brought home on Friday night.

"But I was woken up at four in the morning and saw an ambulance outside the house. I went out to comfort Yvonne. I just couldn't believe it when I was told what had happened. It has hit me for six.

"They are wonderful parents and they were very proud of Laura. She was a smashing girl, very intelligent, and doing well in school."

Mr and Mrs Rhodes have an elder son, Andrew, who does not live at home.

Inspector Malcolm Lewis of South Wales Police said: "It is a terrible thing to happen and out thoughts are with the girls' parents right now.

"An investigation has been launched to establish the circumstances surrounding this tragic event."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jane Warr
"Her parents... don't know how she managed to get hold of the tablets"



SEE ALSO:
Missing teenage girls found
03 Sep 04  |  South West Wales


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