Probable cause found, Tysen Benz suicide case moves forward

MARQUETTE — The case of an eleven year-old boy’s suicide is moving forward in court.

On the evening of March 14, 2017, police from the Marquette City Police Department responded to the home of eleven year-old Tysen Benz for a report of an attempted suicide. Upon arrival, Tysen was found unresponsive and transported to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. Tysen succumbed to his injuries on April 4.

An investigation into his death led police to the discovery of a social media prank, in which Tysen’s thirteen year-old girlfriend posed as a friend and told him she was dead. Today, that girl was in Marquette County Probate Court for an extended preliminary hearing. She is facing two charges – malicious use of telecommunication services and using a computer to commit a crime.

Detective Christopher Aldrich of the Marquette City Police was called to the stand to testify. He read the messages exchanged between the girl and Tysen the night of his suicide via Apple iMessage aloud to the full courtroom. In his testimony, Detective Aldrich said the girl told Tysen she was dead via iMessage before the conversation moved to a different social media platform, Snapchat.

He said they are working to obtain those messages. After hearing the facts of the case, Probate Judge Cheryl Hill decided there was probable cause to move forward with a pretrial conference. Here, both parties will mediate and attempt to resolve the matter. If a decision cannot be agreed upon, the case will move to trial. The pretrial conference is set for July 24 and the girl is not allowed to be on any social media and must have supervision when using a computer.