Who was Mikayla Miller? Massachusetts teen's cause of death a mystery as DA says 'no evidence' race was factor
The teenager was embroiled in a fight between herself and two other teenagers in a group of four, one day before her death
HOPKINTON, MASSACHUSETTS: New details have emerged as part of an investigation into the death of a teenager from Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan explained on Tuesday, May 4, what her office had gathered so far about the case and promised full transparency to the public. She also acknowledged unsubstantiated rumors that Mikayla Miller, a 16-year-old Black female, was murdered and that race may have played a part in her untimely death.
According to Ryan, it's too soon to say what exactly caused the tragedy in mid-April as the local medical examiner is yet to make a ruling. She added that there was no evidence that race was a factor in causing Miller's death.
Instead, the district attorney emphasized the gravity of the loss that the teenager's family was reeling under, saying, "what we really owe her is an accurate and fulsome accounting of what happened." Meanwhile, Ryan also strongly denied accusations that her office was covering up Miller's death.
"Mikayla Miller, as many of you may have seen, was a beautiful child. She was a cherished daughter, a gifted student, a talented athlete, and a loyal friend," she said, calling her death was "an unspeakable tragedy."
Ryan acknowledged that many empathizing with the Miller's family had called the investigation into question since initially the police had reportedly told the family that it was a suicide case. But speculation that prematurely suggest that her death was a result of a hate crime is also, as of now, unsubstantiated, according to the district attorney. She said her office did "not have any evidence, either positive or negative, as to whether that is the case in this circumstance."
A teenage girl, Mikayla Miller, was found dead in Hopkinton last month. The police initially told family it was a suicide. But the family has unanswered questions and say police and the DA botched the investigation. Meanwhile, rumors are swirling. https://t.co/PlHsYEzdsr pic.twitter.com/8eMw1g8vFc— Zoe Greenberg (@zoegberg) May 4, 2021
What we know so far
Mikayla Miller was found dead in the early hours of Sunday, April 18. At the time, Ryan's office said her death was not considered suspicious but that the case was still "open and active." At a news briefing on Tuesday, May 4, Ryan offered details based on the preliminary investigation that included combing through dozens of eyewitness interviews, device analyses, as well as surveillance footage.
The probe found that the teenager was embroiled in a fight between herself and two other teenagers in a group of four, one day before her death. According to Ryan, someone Mikayla Miller was in a relationship with was present during the fight, which reportedly took place at an unsupervised clubhouse in the apartment complex on Revolution Way where she lived.
Miller's mother called the police hours later to say that her daughter had been "jumped." She told officers that her daughter had been pushed and punched in the face. Officers noted she had a bloodied lip. There was also damage caused at the apartment complex.
Miller had left her home on Saturday night between 9 pm and 10 pm, according to an app on her phone. Her lifeless body was found by a jogger in a wooded area off a pavement on Sunday morning, May 2, Ryan said. The DA noted that the app had recorded about 1,316 steps between 9 and 10 pm, which was consistent with the distance between Mikayla's residence and where she was found.
Detectives reviewed GPS and other evidence to determine where the teens involved in the fight were during that period. They placed the two girls at their locations from 8 pm to the following morning. Meanwhile, the two boys reportedly went with a family member to Charlton before heading to Sturbridge around 9 pm. Another girl who had been outside the clubhouse during the fight was also at home, per witnesses.
However, Ryan said that there may have been others "in the woods or that area on Sunday," but "we do not have any information as to that." The investigation found that the last person she communicated with on her phone was another girl who wasn't involved in the fight, around 9 pm on that fateful night. Ryan also said authorities were still investigating whether Miller was assaulted during the fight on Saturday, May 1.