LOS ANGELES - A federal grand jury yesterday indicted a Missouri woman for her alleged role in perpetrating a hoax on the online social network MySpace against a 13-year-old neighbor who committed suicide.

Lori Drew, of suburban St. Louis, allegedly helped create a false-identity MySpace account to contact Megan Meier, who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Josh didn't exist.

Megan hanged herself at home in October 2006, after receiving cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.

Drew was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl.

Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Megan.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said this was the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case. "This was a tragedy that did not have to happen," O'Brien said.

Both the girl and MySpace are named as victims in the case, he said. The indictment noted that MySpace computer servers are in Los Angeles County. *