Multiple voices, including U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley, are calling for an independent investigation into the death of Black LGBTQ teen Mikayla Miller in suburban Boston after her mother, Calvina Strothers, alleged that law enforcement investigating the case have withheld information and haven’t fully investigated the events that led to Miller being, as Strothers puts it, “tied to a tree and left.’
Miller’s body was found by a jogger near her Hopkinton, Mass. residence on April 18. A statement released by local advocacy group Violence in Boston on Sunday claiming to be from Strothers alleged Miller was murdered by a “group of kids” that assaulted her shortly before she was last seen on April 17. It furthered alleged that Hopkinton Police didn’t log the incident or investigate any connection between the assault and Miller’s death hours later.
“The Hopkinton Police did not log either the incident when my daughter was ambushed nor when she was found dead. The state police did not conduct an investigation or speak to the persons involved,” read the statement. It also alleged that Millbury State Police Barracks Sergeant Sean O’Brien threatened to out Miller as LGBTQ if her mother contacted the media.
Strothers told The Boston Globe that investigators initially told the her Miller’s death was a suicide, and Ryan said that the death wasn’t considered suspicious shortly after the investigation began.
Rep. Pressley, who represents Massachusetts’ 7th district, joined Violence in Boston’s Monica Cannon-Grant and former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson in calling for an independent investigation into the case on Tuesday.
“Mikayla Miller deserved to grow old. She had so many basketball games, road trips and HBCU homecomings ahead of her,” Pressley said via Twitter. “She deserved childhood – uninterrupted. There needs to be a full, transparent, independent investigation into her death.”
The statement released through Violence in Boston’s social media accounts came shortly after Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan released a statement calling Miller’s death a “tragedy” and that the investigation into her death “remains open” as they wait for a ruling on Miller’s cause of death from the county’s Medical Examiner.
Ryan responded directedly to the allegations of a cover-up in a press conference Tuesday. “Regarding the notion that this office has in some way neglected Mikayla’s case, or worse, so much worse, is enegaged in some sort of cover-up because Mikayla was Black or because she was a member of the LGBTQIA community, that is patently false,” Ryan said.
New details about the investigation were shared at the press conference as well. Ryan presented a timeline of the events leading up to Miller’s death based off information investigators had been able to gather so far. Ryan acknowledged the assault brought up in the Violence in Boston statement, saying that Hopkinton Police responded to a report of the assault at 7:20pm and noticed blood on Miller’s face.
Ryan also claimed that cell phone data, text messages and GPS information gathered by police point to the incident between Miller and a male and female occurring between 5:17 and 6:41pm in the clubhouse of Miller’s apartment complex Ryan said preliminary evidence gathered by investigators thus far don’t place anyone involved in the previous altercation at the site of Miller’s death.
Police believe Miller’s last communication prior to her death was “with a female” at around 9:00pm. A health app on Miller’s phone logged 1,316 steps between 9 and 10pm, which Ryan claimed was roughly the same distance between her apartment and where her body was found on the morning of April 18. But Ryan reiterated that investigators do not know where those steps took Miller definitively at this time.
Ryan reiterated that no conclusions have been made in Miller’s case. “This case will not be closed until we have exhausted all avenues,” Ryan said. The investigation into the assault also remains open.
Violence in Boston will hold a vigil for Miller on Thursday evening at the Boston Marathon starting line.