ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — An uncontrollable case of the hiccups brought an odd sort of fame to Jennifer Mee, who was 15 when she appeared on television morning shows trying to find a cure for her mysterious affliction. (Scroll down for video)
Five weeks later they stopped and the media attention mostly disappeared – until this week, when Mee, now 19, was charged with first-degree murder after police said she met a 22-year-old man online and lured him to a vacant home where two of her friends robbed and shot him.
It's hard to say whether Mee sought the spotlight, or whether she was just trying to make the hiccups stop.
Now she's in jail.
"I've said for a while now, her case of the hiccups wasn't a case of the hiccups, it was a curse of the hiccups," Mee's mother, Rachel Robidoux, told the 93.3 WFLZ "MJ Morning Show" in Tampa on Monday.
It all started in January 2007, in first-period science class at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg. That's when Mee got the hiccups and spent five hours in the nurse's office.
They didn't stop the next day, or the next week. She hiccuped up to 50 times a minute. Two weeks in, her mother called the St. Petersburg Times looking for help, suggestions, anything.
A story ran in the paper and the national media turned its attention to the slightly chubby, slightly shy teen.
She went on NBC's "Today Show," where she got a hug from a fellow guest, country star Keith Urban. She flew to New York to be on the show, and another morning show visited her room so many times – 57 to be exact – that she moved hotels. She appeared on "Inside Edition."
No one could explain why Mee hiccuped so much. She was seen by doctors, chiropractors and acupuncturists. Tests were run. Cures were tried. Nothing was found.
She stopped going to school and could only eat soft foods. She got medicine to sleep.
On February 28, 37 days after the hiccups first started, they stopped. A story marking the milestone ran in the local paper, and Mee was happy to return to classes.
But the turmoil in her life was just beginning.
She was reunited with her father, whom she hadn't seen since she was 2. She ran away from home. Her family sued a hiccup cure company for allegedly using her image for profit without permission.
"All of a sudden, people knew her name and she would talk to them on different chat sites," her mother said Monday. "She's very naive, and I was afraid she was getting herself into something that she didn't really know what she was doing."
Along with her arrest report, St. Petersburg Police included a rundown of all the times they've had contact with Mee. In 2009, officers were called three times because she and her boyfriend were fighting. This year she ran away again, and police were called for several more fights.
Then, St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon said, Mee met Shannon Griffin online and lured him to a vacant home across the street from her apartment building, where two of her friends shot him four times in what the three later told police was a botched robbery.
Less than $50 was stolen from Griffin, who had worked at a Walmart for at least a year and was supposed to be on vacation this week.
Said Robidoux: "She's a lovable sweet little girl who would not hurt a fly. Where things went wrong I don't know."
On her MySpace page, Mee describes herself as a "female version of a hustla" and adds that "her heart is still in Vermont," where her father lives. She last logged into her page Sunday.
"My name is jennifer, im almost 19 but dont let the age fool you, the struggles ive been through has made me grown up so much. Im always havin fun chillin," she wrote.
On her Facebook page, she alluded to drinking and drugs – and visiting a strip club. On her MySpace page, she posted photos of her tongue piercing, of her giving the camera the finger and her boyfriend's jail booking photo.
She did not mention the hiccups.
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