On the morning of April 18, a jogger found the body of 16-year-old Mikayla Miller up against a tree in the woods near a walking trail in Hopkinton, Mass. The day before her body was discovered, Mikayla’s mother complained to authorities that the teen had been jumped by other teens and punched in the face. So far, no one has been charged for attacking Mikayla that day, and, as for her death, her family said that police initially told them that she died by suicide. But the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office said it is still waiting on a ruling on the cause of death from the medical examiner’s office and that “no final conclusions have been reached.”
“From the beginning of this investigation, our investigators have been fully committed to determining exactly how Mikayla’s promising life ended,” District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a news release, CNN reports. “Mikayla’s death is an unspeakable tragedy for her loved ones and the entire community.”
CNN also reports that “the DA’s office said investigators have been able to interview witnesses, conduct a forensic analysis on a cell phone and review other evidence during the ongoing investigation, including video surveillance.” But Mikayla’s family, along with activists and other community members, remain unconvinced that sufficient work is being done to determine how the teen died and who should be held accountable.
According to WCVB 5, hundreds of people attended a vigil and rally for Mikayla that took place in Hopkinton on Thursday. Her mother, Calvina Strothers, broke down in tears while speaking to the crowd about her daughter who she described as a “bright and shining star.”
Strothers expressed that she didn’t feel the authorities were doing enough to get to the truth behind Mikayla’s death and she cited the rush to call it a suicide as the reason for her suspicion.
“If they had not have immediately made a conclusion regarding my child’s death and did a proper investigation, we wouldn’t be here,” Strothers said.
The DA’s office released a timeline of events from the weekend Mikayla died.
Saturday, April 17:
7:19 p.m. – Police are dispatched to Miller’s apartment to take a report from a 16 year old who said she was jumped by 5 people while walking home. The dispatcher noted that the teen said she knew three of the people involved and the teen’s mother was denying the need for medical service.
7:41 p.m. – An officer clears from the complaint and is enroute to another address “for a follow up.”
8:09 p.m. – The same officer clears the second address and is enroute to another address “for a follow up.”
Sunday, April 18:
7:03 a.m. – Police are dispatched to the area of 35 West Main Street for a report of a body in a tree
7:09 a.m. – The first officer arrives on the scene. A request is made for detectives.
7:18 a.m. – An officer asks dispatchers to provide the contact information for the caller so they can speak with them
7:46 a.m. – Fire department/EMS clear the scene
9:15 a.m. – An officer leaves the scene and is enroute to a residence to make notification to the family
10:09 a.m. – Police are still on scene. The medical examiner arrives
10:23 a.m. – The medical examiner and all units clear the scene
Some news outlets have reported that the five people who allegedly jumped Mikayla were described by her mother as white teenagers, which has aroused suspicion that the teen’s death was a lynching (a family spokesman said that Mikayla was found with a belt around her neck.)
According to WCVB, some members of the community in Hopkinton who said they knew Mikayla said she was being bullied because she’s gay.
Mikayla’s story drew the attention of Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who took to Twitter to join others in calling for a thorough investigation.
“Mikayla Miller deserved to grow old. She had so many basketball games, road trips and HBCU homecomings ahead of her. She deserved childhood — uninterrupted,” Pressley wrote. “There needs to be a full, transparent, independent investigation into her death.”