Death of queer Black teen found dead after being ‘jumped’ by white gang ruled suicide
The death of Mikayla Miller has been ruled by Massachusetts medical examiners as a suicide.
Miller, 16, was found dead by a jogger in a wooded area near her Hopkinton apartment complex on the morning of 18 April.
After a delayed and fraught police investigation, examiners concluded that the 16-year-old died from asphyxia by hanging, according to a death certificate obtained by NBC Boston.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office announced the findings in a statement Tuesday (18 May), writing: “Our investigation into the events surrounding Mikayla’s death remains active and ongoing.
“We will continue to explore every investigative angle necessary as we do that work and intend to issue a complete and thorough report at the conclusion of the investigation.”
The office’s representatives urged “continued patience” as the authorities “explore every angle necessary”. A full report on Miller’s death will soon be released, they added.
Miller’s mother, Calvina Strothers, is expected to call for a “comprehensive” investigation on Wednesday (19 May) at a virtual news conference.
Ben Crump, her attorney who also represented the family of George Floyd, will join along with community leaders to voice “concerning details” about the case, it is understood.
Strothers has previously voiced fears that her daughter was murdered after being “ambushed” by a “group of kids“.
“My concern is, did they really thoroughly look at the crime scene?” Strothers said in previous interviews.
“Or did they just dismiss it because she’s a Black girl on a tree in Hopkinton?”
What happened to Mikayla Miller?
According to local officials, on the evening of 17 April, Miller was the victim of a physical assault from a group of white teenagers in the clubhouse area of her apartment building. The scuffle left her with a bloodied lip, police records show. Strothers said Miller was “jumped”.
By tracking her step count on her phone’s pedometer, investigators found that Miller shortly after walked “1,316 steps, roughly the same distance from her home to the location where her body was found” the following morning.
Officers, using GP and cellular data, concluded that none of the teens involved in the tussle were nowhere near the scene of her death at the time.
“As to who else may have been in the woods or that area on Sunday, we do not have any information as to that,” said Middlesex district attorney Marian Ryan.
Describing the teen as a “cherished daughter, a gifted student, a talented athlete, and a loyal friend”, Ryan said Miller’s death was an “unspeakable tragedy” as she rebuffed claims of inaction and wrongdoing.
“From the beginning of this investigation, our investigators have been fully committed to determining exactly how Mikayla’s precious and promising life ended,” she said.
“Make no mistake, there is no truth to the allegation that we have reached a final conclusion.”
She added: “Regarding the notion that this office has in some way neglected Mikayla’s case, or worse […] engaged in some sort of cover-up because Mikayla was Black, or because she was a member of the LGBT+ community – that is patently false.”
Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk).
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.
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