Lifetime’s Mommy Meanest: True Story of Kendra Licari

‘Mommy Meanest,’ directed by Greg Beeman, introduces us to Mia, who has a close relationship with her single mother, Madelyn. When Mia’s popularity in school surges, her mother is proud of her at first. However, when Mia spends more time with her new boyfriend, she begins to receive demeaning text messages from unknown numbers. Feeling as though everyone hates her, Mia finds comfort with her mother, who gives her assurance. In a shocking twist, it is revealed that Madelyn has been sending the text messages. The Lifetime thriller movie claims to be inspired by actual events, prompting a deeper search for the inspiration behind the disconcerting story.

Mommy Meanest is Inspired by the Case of Kendra Licari

In October 2021, a 14-year-old girl at Beal City Public School, Michigan, began receiving malicious and threatening messages from an unknown source. Soon, her boyfriend, as well as her friends, began being attacked in a similar manner. The specific and targeted nature of the hurtful comments made by the cyber assailant pointed toward someone from the high school sending the messages.

The teen told her mother, Kendra Licari, about the cyberbullying. Licari, 42, was a basketball teacher at her school and reported the harassment to the high school administration. The messages kept streaming through Instagram and Snapchat, focused on the girl and her boyfriend, sometimes dozens a day. The school, thus, sought the assistance of the local Sheriff’s department. In January 2022, the Isabella County Sheriff, Michael Main, met with the victims and began an investigation.

The Sheriff initially tried to discern the identity of the perpetrator by tracking their IP address. However, he soon realized the aggressor was using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to mask their actual location. Reaching the limit of his digital forensic skills, he tried to track down the source at the school by talking to students and investigating potential suspects. Yet, owing to a lack of concrete leads, the search seemed to hit a dead end while the messages continued. When no leads were found even after months of investigation, the Sheriff contacted the FBI for a more advanced approach.

It was then that an FBI analyst picked up the real IP address of the aggressor, which they were able to discern through the VPN every time a message was sent. To everyone’s shock, the address was directly connected to Kendra Licari, the initial young victim’s owns mother. What’s even more surprising is that upon being confronted, she quickly admitted her guilt and was arrested on charges of stalking a minor.

While the motives for Licari’s actions remain a mystery to this day, experts have since indicated that her behavior can be viewed as a case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy or Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy involves a caregiver (most often a mother) inducing or exaggerating negative health symptoms in a child under their care, primarily to attract attention due to an underlying psychological disorder in the caregiver.

Lifetime’s ‘Mommy Meanest’ has thus adopted this theory in the way it has turned the real-life incident into film, depicting jealousy and a need for attention in Madelyn when her daughter begins to spend less time with her. Through online bullying, she sought to make Mia more reliant on her. Both in the movie and in the actual incident, the mother sent hundreds of texts, with a frequency that underlined a possible psychological disorder fueling the obsessive behavior. In other words, while it takes inspiration from a true story, it also spins its own dramatized tale, exploring what may have caused such a bizarre incident to occur.

Where is Kendra Licari Now?

Although Kendra Licari was initially charged with five felony counts for harassing her own daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend for more than a year, she ultimately pleaded guilty to only two counts of stalking a minor. In exchange, in April 2023, she was handed down a sentence of 19 months to five years in prison – she could’ve walked away with just parole, yet the presiding judge made the conscious decision to send her to jail so as to allow her victims to deal with their traumas away from her.

It’s actually imperative to note that while Kendra’s teen daughter was hoping for leniency as she didn’t want to feel like she was the reason her mother ended up behind bars, her boyfriend, as well as his family, were very vocal about wanting a prison term because of how it’d affected him. In the end, Kendra did profusely apologize for her actions before stating she is now seeking help for her own mental health plus trauma, but her sentence didn’t waver. So, today, at the age of 43, Kendra is incarcerated at the Special Alternative Incarceration (SAI) Women’s Facility in Chelsea, Michigan. Her earliest possible release date is November 3, 2024, whereas her maximum discharge date is April 3, 2028.

Read More: The Manny: Is the Lifetime Movie Based on a True Story?