Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

MANCHESTER, TN (WSMV) - The family of Channing Smith, the Coffee County teenager who committed suicide after being cyber bullied, said whoever posted his private text messages also wrote a message indicating a desire to make them public.

The family provided the screen grabs to News4 Investigates, which we are not airing because they identify other teenagers who may have been involved.

But the screen grabs of the texts indicate someone not only shared then online, but added text over the screen grabs indicating a desire to post them publicly.

Smith’s family said he was not open about his sexuality.

The screen grabs show Smith and another teenager were sharing sexual text messages.

At one point, Smith asks that the texts not be shared with a female teenager.

One of social media posts displaying the private texts include a comment written in italics appearing over the screen grabs.

Whoever posted the screen grabs on social media wrote in the italicized comment, “(unclear) doesn’t like me speaking my mind, so I’ll post it.”

After the private texts were posted, Smith wrote on social media, “I’m gonna get off social media for a while. I really hate how I can’t trust anyone because those I did were so fake. Bye.”

Smith then took his own life.

Josh Smith, Channing’s brother, said that comment posted on the screen grabs makes it clear that someone wanted to out his brother.

“(The family) hit a point of just complete anger of wanting to see action and justice taken on this situation,” Josh Smith said.

Students at Coffee County Central High School came together on Sunday morning to remember Smith.

Friends and families celebrated Smith’s life on Sunday at Rotary Park.

Billy Ray Cyrus performed the young boy’s favorite song, Amazing Grace, at the ceremony.

Smith’s mother said her son would have been moved by the outpouring of love.

“The people that he loved, he loved with all his heart, and if he was here, he would be blown away to see the support that has come out for him and to hear his story,” said Crys Smith, his mother. “The ultimate message … the bullying, the cyberbullying has to stop.”

Smith was a musician and a motorcyclist. His guitar and motorcycle were on display on Sunday.

WSMV.com is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

>> Click/tap here to download our free mobile app. <<


Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.