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'Hiccup Girl' charged with first-degree murder

A teenager who attracted national media attention after she couldn't stop hiccuping for five weeks has been charged with first-degree murder, NBC News reported Monday.
Image: Jennifer Mee
Jennifer Mee, who was arrested for first-degree murder, in her police booking photograph.Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
/ Source: NBC, and news services

A teenager who attracted national media attention after she couldn't stop hiccuping for five weeks has been charged with first-degree murder for allegedly luring a man to a house where he was robbed and fatally shot.

Jennifer Mee, 19, appeared on NBC's TODAY several times in 2007 because of her condition, which caused her to hiccup up to 50 times a minute.

She tried various cures without success, until the hiccups eventually stopped. The teenager said at the time it was not known exactly why, but credited "a mixture of everything and all the medicine they had me on" in an interview on the TODAY show.

According to St. Petersburg police, the victim, Shannon Griffin, 22, befriended Mee while online at a social networking site sometime in the last week. A few days ago, they began talking on the telephone and agreed to meet together for the first time on Saturday night, police said.

Griffin's family has described him as an introvert who spent a lot of time on the Internet. He allegedly told at least one family member that he was excited at the prospect of meeting a girl, police said.

According to investigators, Mee and two accomplices, Lamont Newton and Laron Raiford, planned to rob Griffin when he arrived at the vacant house.

Griffin was robbed of his wallet, a small amount of cash, his cell phone and the keys to the motor scooter that he rode to the house. He was shot three times in the chest and once in the shoulder.

Police said there were signs of a struggle during the robbery.

Investigators found a pair of shoes at the scene that belonged to one of the suspects and also recovered a handgun.

Following an anonymous tip, homicide investigators arrested Mee, Newton and Raiford on Sunday.

Police said the trio lived together and Newton was apparently Mee's boyfriend.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Charles Harmon said at a news conference Monday that investigators were still trying to determine who was holding the gun when it went off.

The shooting took place as Mee was leaving, police say.

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.

She was being held without bond Monday pending an appearance in Pinellas County Court in Clearwater. County jail records did not show whether she had an attorney.

Mee's mother, Rachel Robidoux, told The Tampa Tribune on Monday that life for her daughter has been nothing but trouble since national exposure over her hiccups.

"Honestly, the best way I can describe it, is that they call it a case of the hiccups, but I call it the curse of the hiccups," she told the newspaper. "It felt like a nightmare."

Unstoppable hiccups have periodically made headline news. A 21-year-old woman, Anna Mayer, hiccuped for 42 days in 1941 and then 46 days in 1944, according to Time magazine.

On both occasions, an operation by Dr. Lester Samuels on a nerve in her back cured the problem.

The second time, Mayer's family had to appeal to President Franklin Roosevelt to have Samuels, by then a captain in the army, released from duty to perform the operation.