A mother spent months bullying her daughter online, pretending to be a teenager. Now her story is a movie

Kendra Gail Licari, who used a fake persona, even offered to help track down whoever was targeting her daughter, writes Dan Gooding

Monday 13 May 2024 18:51 BST
Kendra Gail Licari catfished her own daughter in a harassment scheme in 2021
Kendra Gail Licari catfished her own daughter in a harassment scheme in 2021 (Isabella County Jail)
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The story of a mother who cyber-bullied her own daughter and the teenager’s boyfriend, using a fake persona, is now being told on the small screen as she serves time in jail.

Kendra Gail Licari spent more than a year harassing the two Michigan teenagers, while also spending time helping their school and local authorities track down whoever was bullying them.

The 43-year-old was sentenced to between 19 months and five years in prison in April 2023, after pleading guilty to two counts of stalking a minor.

Mother charged for cyberbullying own daughter

Now her story has been turned into a Lifetime movie called Mommy Meanest.

Here is everything we know about the real-life case which inspired the film:

Licari’s daughter told her she was being bullied

In early 2021, Licari’s teenage daughter started getting harassing, mean messages from someone claiming to be the same age as her.

The girl’s boyfriend was also targeted, with each of them getting messages via text and social media up to 12 times a day.

The Mount Pleasant high-schooler told her mother about the messages and Licari went to authorities herself to report the bullying.

She worked with the boyfriend’s mother to try to track down the “culprit”.

How did Licari keep her identity secret?

Kendra Licari’s reasons for bullying her daughter online for months remain a mystery (Michigan Department of Corrections)

The mother used a fake identity to bully her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend, but it was far more complex than a simple fake profile.

Beal City Schools started investigating in December 2021, when the girl and her mother went to report the messages.

The district then called in local law enforcement a month later when they couldn’t find the source of the bullying.

However, a few months later the FBI was called in after local computer crime resources were exhausted.

It was found that Licari was using a virtual private network (VPN) to mask her location, but law enforcement investigators were getting suspicious in April 2022.

The FBI then managed to lock down the IP addresses used to send the messages and found they belonged to the mother.

At one point, Licari had claimed it was one of the teens who was sending the messages.

She was charged in December 2022.

What was in the messages?

Investigators said there were several hundred messages, with 349 pages of evidence submitted.

The contents of the messages were kept private by prosecutors and the court, but they were described as “disturbing” and “hateful”.

Some of the messages included doctored photos, prosecutors said.

“I can’t imagine any parent saying such horrible things to her own daughter,” Judge Mark Duthie told the court in April 2023.

Why did Kendra Licari bully her daughter?

Licari’s reasons for harassing her daughter online remain a mystery.

When she was confronted by law enforcement, the mother made a full confession and so the case did not go to a jury trial.

Isabella County prosecutor David Barberi said at the time that it appeared the mother wanted her daughter to need her.

"Someone else coined the term, but they called it a version of ‘cyber Munchausen’s syndrome’ in a sense that this seems to be the type of behaviour where you’re making somebody feel bad or need you in their life because of this behaviour," Mr Barberi told Local 12 News.

The mother told the judge at her hearings that she would take back what she had done if she could.

Where is Licari now?

The 43-year-old is currently serving her sentence at Michigan’s Special Alternative Incarceration Women’s Facility.

Her earliest possible release date is 3 November 2024.

Who is playing Licari in the Lifetime movie?

The dramatised version of the story, which premiered on Saturday 11 May, saw some slight changes but reflects the real-life events while trying to fill in the gaps left by the lack of reasoning given for Licari’s behaviour.

Lisa Rinna arrives to the Daily Front Row Fashion LA Awards 2024 at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on 28 April 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)
Mommy Meanest - trailer

Lisa Rinna is playing divorced mum Madelyn, the fictional version of Licari, who in the story feels replaced by her daughter Mia’s boyfriend, People reported.

As the daughter gets ready to leave for college, the mother tries to “squash” her new independence by sending the mean messages.

Those messages are designed to bring her daughter back to her, as the mum offers to help investigate the bullying.

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