An American TV network nixed a segment on the murder of a Canadian teenager after her mother made a public emotional plea against its production, a publicist said Tuesday.
Using her blog and Facebook, Patricia Hung had lambasted NBC for planning the E! Entertainment segment on the killing as a crass profit-grab at the expense of her daughter Stefanie Rengel.
The postings, which garnered dozens of supportive comments, appears to have had its desired effect.
“E! opted not to include the Stefanie Rengel case in our upcoming special When Teens Kill,,” Kristen Osborne, senior publicist with E!, told The Canadian Press.
“When we are in production on specials like this, we always research numerous stories and not all of them make it in.”
Earlier in the day, Hung called on the media to respect her family’s privacy despite her plea against production of the segment, saying she was “disappointed” by the widespread attention to her plea.
“We are trying to minimize the amount of media attention to this story — hence asking NBC to cancel their publication — to protect our children from any more re-victimization,” Hung said before the cancellation decision was made.
Stefanie, 14, was stabbed to death outside their east-end Toronto home on New Year’s Day 2008 in a shockingly senseless act that put two other teens behind bars for life.
In a blog posting, Hung appealed for help to stop NBC Universal from making the segment on the killing for the E! special.
“They have chosen to profile Stefanie’s story and have refused to cancel even after I begged them to respect our wishes,” Hung wrote.
“My feelings are that it cheapens her life and all she suffered, for ratings and profit.”
Hung further called on blog readers to write Egenel Pierre, the producer she said had refused to cancel the show.
She also said she had posted a message on the NBC Facebook page asking them to stop the production of Stefanie’s story and urged people to add “likes” and comments.
At the same time, Hung wrote that she didn’t want her blog posting sent to any news media. Instead, she asked people to “simply and quietly” shun the production in hopes that NBC would move on to another story where the family does want to participate.
“In this case, the Rengel story is not being included,” Osborne said.
Hung said Tuesday she regretted going public with her pleas.
“I did make a very grave error in posting the information,” she said. “I have learned a lesson, that’s for sure.”
Evidence was that 15-year-old Melissa Todorovic considered Stefanie — someone she had never met — to be a rival and spent months relentlessly goading her boyfriend, David Bagshaw, 17, to kill her by among other things, threatening to withhold sex from him.
Bagshaw finally succumbed, luring Stefanie from her home, stabbing her six times with a butcher’s knife, and leaving her to bleed to death in the snow.
“The re-enactment of her death, should any of her siblings see it, now or in re-runs, would be more than upsetting,” Hung said in her blog.