How did Mikayla Miller die? Death of Massachusetts Black LGBTQ girl, 16, ruled a suicide by medical examiner

Miller's body was reportedly discovered by a jogger on April 18 in the woods about a mile from her home


                            How did Mikayla Miller die? Death of Massachusetts Black LGBTQ girl, 16, ruled a suicide by medical examiner
Mikayla Miller was found hanging by a thin black belt attached to a tree a mile from her home (GoFundMe)

HOPKINTON, MASSACHUSETTS: A Massachusetts medical examiner has ruled the controversial death of a 16-year-old Black girl a suicide a month after she was found dead. Mikayla Miller's body was discovered in the woods near her home following an altercation with classmates and a romantic partner. Miller identified as LGBTQ, according to reports.

Miller left her house between 9 and 10 pm on April 17, 2021, hours after the physical fight with a mixed-race group of teens and was discovered hanged from a tree the very next morning. Miller's body was discovered by a jogger early on the morning of April 18, 2021, in the woods about a mile from her home, according to an affidavit filed by a Hopkinton police detective. She was found hanging by a thin black belt attached to a tree. Her death certificate also states that Miller died by hanging herself. 

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How did Mikayla Miller die?

The Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner stated that the official cause of death was certified as asphyxia by hanging. In a lengthy May 6, 2021 news conference, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan laid out details surrounding some of the circumstances leading up to Miller’s death and the status of the investigation, but she stopped short of indicating a cause of death.

Miller's mother, Calvina Strothers, has argued on social media that she believed her daughter had been lured into the woods by one of the teenagers with whom she’d been in the earlier altercation. But Ryan stated that the investigators had checked the alibis of all five teens, two involved in the altercation, two who witnessed it and a fifth who remained in their car. None were in the woods that night, she said. 

According to a timeline of events Ryan provided, Miller was in a common area of her apartment complex between 5.17 pm and 6.41 pm on Saturday, April 17. She was initially accompanied by two friends, who left before a fight happened between Miller and a mixed-race group consisting of two males and two females, one of whom Ryan said she may have had romantic ties to. Another teen, a female, remained in the car the group arrived in. One of the males and one of the females were each involved in the physical fight with Miller, Ryan said, and the teen later told police she had been shoved and punched in the face. Officers found Miller with a swollen bloody lip.

After the fight, the teens were in the common area for another 20 minutes, Ryan said, and Miller’s mother called the police at around 7.20 pm. At around 9.30 pm, Strothers went to bed, believing Miller was at home. Records from Miller’s smartphone fitness app details that she took about 1,316 steps between 9 and 10 pm that night, that distance roughly aligns with how far away a jogger found her body the next morning.

In a GoFundMe campaign, Strothers wrote that she had no reason to believe her daughter was suicidal. Strothers wrote she was heartbroken and confused when police knocked on her door on April 18, 2021, and allegedly told her that Miller had committed suicide in the woods. "It is unacceptable that my daughter's death was considered a suicide without an investigation," she wrote. Strothers described her daughter as an honors student who loved basketball and dreamed of studying journalism at Howard University or Spelman College. The fundraiser page raised $58,161 of $40,000 goal

In a statement, Ryan’s office said the investigation would remain ongoing and that investigators expected to release a full report upon its conclusion.

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