Mass. mom begs for answers after teen daughter found dead

"What I want is for the criminal justice system to work," said Calvina Strothers, the mother of Mikayla Miller. 

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A mother demands answers and justice after her teenage daughter was found dead in their Massachusetts town last month.

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NBC News reported Calvina Strothers, the mother of Mikayla Miller, said the investigation into her daughter’s death has not been satisfactory. Miller, 16, was found dead by a jogger on April 18 in a wooded area near her residence. Her cause of death has not been released yet. However, law enforcement officials alleged the teenager was in a fight days before her death.

“What I want is for the criminal justice system to work,” said Strothers. She hopes the police “work as hard to get justice for Mikayla as they would do for their own child.”

Flowers rested in the woods nearby where Mikayla Miller was found dead in Hopkinton. ERIN CLARK/GLOBE STAFF

On Thursday, at least several hundred people gathered at a memorial in Hopkinton, Mass. for Miller. According to the report, the small town of 18,000 residents, about 84 percent of whom are white, and 2% identify as Black, is about 30 miles west of Boston.

Critics have spoken out about the investigation and made claims that the teenager’s race and LGBTQ+ identity have hindered the progress and quality of the probe.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan responded to the allegations:

“Let me also speak to the calls and questions that we have appropriately received from concerned citizens regarding the notion that this office has in some way neglected Mikayla’s case or, worse, so much worse, is engaged in some sort of cover-up because Mikayla was Black or because she was a member of the LGBTQIA community,” Ryan said at a news conference Tuesday NBC News reported. “That is painfully false.”

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NBC Boston reported when Mikayla Miller was found, Ryan’s office said at the time that the death was not considered suspicious. She cited witness accounts and surveillance footage but asserted the case remained “open and active.”

Her initial statement detailed Miller was involved in a fight, her romantic partner was there, and the teenagers were in an unsupervised clubhouse. Hours later, her mother called the police to inform them her daughter had been jumped.

According to the report,  Miller herself told officers that she’d been pushed and punched in the face, and the officers noted she had a busted lip. They went on to interview another person involved in the altercation as well as visit the clubhouse where they noticed damages.

On that Saturday night between 9 and 10 p.m, the teenager left her home and walked about 1,316 steps, a distance consistent with the location she was found the following day.

“When they came to my house that morning, without any investigation, they immediately drew a conclusion and said that my daughter took her own life,” Strothers told reporters at the time. NBC Boston reported that she did not hear from Ryan until 12 days after Mikayla’s death.

As the investigation continues, Miller’s mother remembers her, sharing the teenager had hopes of being a journalist and attending a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Maura Healey, the Massachusetts Attorney General, shared a tweet calling for a thorough investigation.

“My heart breaks for Mikayla Miller’s family. Young, LGBTQ girls of color deserve all our love, support, and protection,” she wrote. “Nothing will bring her back, but I hope a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death can bring some peace to her family and community.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley also tweeted a message for Miller and called for an independent investigation. The Democratic politician represents Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District, which includes Boston and some neighboring areas.

“Mikayla Miller deserved to grow old. She had so many basketball games, road trips and HBCU homecomings ahead of her. She deserved childhood — uninterrupted,” she said. “There needs to be a full, transparent, independent investigation into her death.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren also spoke out on social media, sharing an article about the investigation into Mikayla Miller’s death.

“Mikayla Miller’s death was a tragedy. Her family deserves peace in knowing that everything possible was done to find answers, including a thorough and transparent investigation,” she tweeted.

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