Bella, a 14 year old from Michigan, met Iraland Ramano while playing a game called Yoville when she was 11 or 12 years old. They friended each other on Facebook and struck up an intense friendship. Iraland was fighting several types of cancer and didn’t have much of a support system. Bella immediately felt for her and decided to become a pillar of strength in Iraland’s life. They texted, Facebook messaged and talked almost every day for several years, and Bella was there through every twist and turn of Iraland’s long struggle.
Bella gave me access to her Facebook page and let me read the messages she exchanged with Iraland. Even after writing about this stuff for nine months now, I was shocked by how “Iraland” manipulated Bella and worked hard to make herself the center of Bella’s life. Bella even quit sports so she could spend more time with her dying friend.
She shared Iraland’s story with people from her high school and her church and organized lots of different ways to show Iraland she was supported and loved.
Whenever Bella would be out having fun with her friends or her family, Iraland would have some sort of emotional or medical crisis and then berate Bella for not devoting her full attention to Iraland’s struggle. Then, Iraland’s twin sister Alex would swoop in and remind Bella that Iraland was angry and depressed because of her illness. Bella was constantly reminded that Iraland was dying and that Bella was the only real friend she had.
There were other characters in the Iraland universe too, and they also demanded a lot of Bella’s time. Iraland’s ex-boyfriend Coleman, also a cancer patient, struck up a friendship with Bella. His father was in a vegetative state after driving drunk and crashing his car in an accident that had killed two innocent people. Coleman’s mother wrote the father off completely out of disgust, so 18 year old Coleman naturally had to decide whether or not to take his father off life support.
Bella also had her family and friends praying for Coleman and his father.
It got to the point where Bella was spending hours each night interacting with Coleman, Iraland and Alex. It was interfering with her real life, but she was terrified to walk away and not support these poor dying people she considered her best friends.
And when she did step away, again she would be reminded just how much Coleman and Iraland were suffering.
Bella was getting sucked into this so deeply that her full time job was being a support for Iraland and Coleman
And then Coleman’s father finally died, and this sent Iraland into a tailspin because she was very close to him. Bella fretted about her safety.
A few days later, Coleman died. And poor Bella mourned him. For months she sent him Facebook messages telling him how much she missed him.
Of course, Iraland needed even more of Bella’s friendship and support after her friend died, and Bella, being an incredibly loving person, gave it freely. She rode out the ups and downs of Iraland’s physical health and her mood swings, and she updated Iraland’s Facebook prayer page for the many people she had shared Iraland’s story with in her town.
So, who is Iraland Ramano? Well, Coleman had an ex-girlfriend, his first love and his high school sweetheart. She accompanied him on his Make-a-Wish trip to Florida. Her name is Brianna.
(NOTE: Picture removed at Brianna’s request as her sister was also pictured)
That’s Brianna on the left. She lives in Idaho, not far away from where Iraland lived. Email messages sent to Iraland were opened in her hometown. She also has the same birthday as Iraland Ramano, although she will be 19 in April. This is from her brother’s Facebook page.
The cell phone numbers that Bella (and other friends of Iraland) were given trace back to a Robbie L Johnson in Idaho, and that person is a relative of Brianna. Bella also sent packages to Iraland at the family’s home address.
I tried to contact Brianna and a few other members of her family. I haven’t heard back from any of them.
EDITED 5:13 PM: Brianna and I have talked on the phone and she admitted to being Iraland.
On a side note, Bella took a beating in the comments section of the first Iraland blog entry. She defended herself admirably. When I had access to her Facebook, I saw that she had also received several messages from our readers (including the person who called our attention to the Iraland page) calling her out on her involvement with the Iraland page. This is not good.
There is no point in bashing people in comment sections. I do not want to run a hater blog. I have sympathy for both the victims AND the hoaxers in these situations, and I refuse to let either be attacked.
There’s a disturbing trend happening right now where people are attacking the parents who run pages for their children when readers think some of the accounts on the pages are questionable. Instead of contacting us, people are making hate pages and participating in all kinds of shady behavior to punish these parents. The problem is that in several cases we’ve looked at over the last few months, the questioners were 100% WRONG and added to an already stressful time in the lives of families with sick or dying children. This is horrible.
If you have questions about a page, PLEASE contact us. We have a Facebook page and an email address (email@example.com) and we research these things for hundreds of hours before releasing any information. Please think before you comment, because there are real people behind the computer screens who might be devastated by what you say.
**Note: An unknown person accessed this website without authorization and deleted several posts. During the ensuing hosting transfer, the original version of this post was lost. This rebuilt post is missing the original comments.